04/18/2002 11:00PM

Mulrainy gets early start on road to Oaks


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mulrainy, who was scheduled to set out next month on the road to the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, is getting a bit of an early start to her 2002 campaign.

Mulrainy will make her seasonal bow in Sunday's second race at Woodbine, a six-furlong, first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies, rather than in the Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies May 5, which is the next stakes stepping-stone to the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

The 1 1/8-mile Oaks long has been the primary target for Mulrainy, who was one of the better performers in her division last year when she finished third in both the seven-furlong Muskoka and 1 1/16-mile Mazarine and second behind subsequent champion Ginger Gold in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth.

"I was going to get a serious work into her Saturday, then run her in the Fury or in an allowance race the same day," said trainer Tom O'Keefe. "But then I figured Saturday's race would have a nice small field, and she'll be able to get a race under her belt."

Mulrainy, who is owned by the Wings of Erin Farm of Les Roberts, has been tuning up for her return to action with a series of rather leisurely drills, the longest being a seven-furlong move in 1:31.20 on a sloppy main track here last Saturday.

"Basically, I've been getting her fit, to give a good effort," said O'Keefe, who also sent out Mulrainy to breeze four furlongs in 52.20 seconds under jockey Chantal Sutherland here Friday morning "just to get the lungs open."

But despite the nature of her preparation and the fact that Sunday's race does not rank highly in the grand scheme, O'Keefe expects Mulrainy to be front and center.

"I still think she'll win," he said. "She's got that type of talent, and she'll never be far out of it."

Mulrainy did run well in her debut last year, finishing second over 5 1/2 furlongs, and then graduated impressively when making her only start at the six-furlong distance.

But no matter what transpires Sunday, O'Keefe does not see Mulrainy running back in the Fury.

"She'll probably go on to the Selene," said the trainer, referring to the open, Grade 1 stakes for 3-year-old fillies here May 20 which will offer a purse of $250,000.

What a Breeze not ready for Fury

Ginger Gold, owned by Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson and trained by Sid Attard, worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on the training track here Wednesday.

Attard said Ginger Gold is scheduled to work again Tuesday and is on schedule to make her seasonal bow in the Fury.

But one filly who is notable by her absence from the list of Fury nominees is What a Breeze, winner of the Ontario Lassie here last fall for her owner-breeder Stan Dodson and trainer Earl Barnett.

What a Breeze wintered at Plumley Farm in Ocala, Fla., and had been expected to be back here by the end of March. But the plans for her return trip went slightly awry, delaying her arrival by about 10 days, and thoughts of her starting in the Fury were abandoned.

"Down there she was galloping two miles, and they were letting her blow out the last quarter," said Barnett. "She has a good foundation, but we're not going too strong with her."

What a Breeze had her first recorded work of the season here Tuesday, going three furlongs in 37.60 seconds."

"We gave her an easy breeze and had her gallop out a half-mile, just to see where she was," said the trainer, who plans a longer drill for the filly this week.

Wake at Noon likely for Vigil

Wake at Noon has been assigned highweight of 123 pounds for next Saturday's Vigil and should be seeking his third stakes win of the season in the $150,000, seven-furlong handicap.

"I think there's a good chance he'll run there," said Abraham Katryan, who trains Wake at Noon for owner Bruno Schickedanz.

Katryan, who has sent out Wake at Noon to win the opening-day Briartic and the April 7 Jacques Cartier here this spring, also could be represented by Runaway Love in the Vigil.

Runaway Love, owned by Harry Pais and Martin Dinkin, was a disappointing fifth when making his 2002 debut in a classified allowance race here April 5 and has been assigned 115 pounds.

Win City, the second highweight at 122 pounds, is slated to make his first start of the year in the Vigil. Owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Bob Tiller, Win City was Canada's Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old last year.

"We've got to get a race under his belt, then stretch him out," said Tiller, who planned to work Win City this weekend.

Exciting Story, who defeated Wake at Noon by a neck when getting nine pounds from the favored runner-up in the 2001 Vigil, has been assigned 120 pounds this time around but is not a certain starter.

'He's got me puzzled," said trainer Mark Casse, who watched Exciting Story turn in his third disappointing effort in as many starts this season when he finished fourth in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier.

"He's sound, and his attitude's pretty good. He just hasn't really got it all together again."

Exciting Story, owned and bred by Harry T. Mangurian, registered a major upset in last May's Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont but is winless in six subsequent appearances.