06/30/2008 12:00AM

Nicki Knew struts her stuff going long


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Kevin Attard always has maintained that Nicki Knew's forte would be route racing.

On Sunday, Nicki Knew rewarded Attard's faith when she rallied to win the $250,800 Bison City, the 1 1/16-mile race that is the second leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

"She'd trained well as a juvenile, and I was looking forward to stretching her out," said Attard, who trains Nicki Knew for Sally Stavro and family's Knob Hill Stable. "Today, everything came to fruition. She proved she was capable; she showed that quality."

Nicki Knew didn't get a chance to try two turns at 2 as her campaign was cut short by a saucer fracture after just two starts in August.

"It wasn't a real serious thing, but we had to give her some time," said Attard. "I started her back in Ocala. She was swimming in January, and was back galloping at the beginning of February. But definitely, to get to the Oaks, we were a little bit behind the 8-ball."

Since the day she made it to the races, the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks - the 1 1/8-mile race on June 8 that kicked off the triple tiara series - had been Nicki Knew's major target.

And while Nicki Knew did make it to the Woodbine Oaks, it was under less-than-ideal circumstances, as she had started just twice this year at seven furlongs and was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Lady Angela two weeks earlier.

While she finished fifth in the Woodbine Oaks, beaten 10 lengths by winner Ginger Brew but just four lengths for second money, Attard was encouraged.

"We were never going to beat the winner, but I think she could have been second or third," said Attard. "She had a little bit of a troubled trip."

In the Bison City, Nicki Knew had clear sailing under new rider Jim McAleney and was up to score by 1 1/4 lengths while looking like she was just hitting her best stride.

Now, Attard is looking forward to the $250,000 Wonder Where, the 1 1/4-mile turf race here July 26 that concludes the triple tiara.

"I think she's going to move up on turf," said Attard, "and I don't think the mile and a quarter's going to be any problem."

Carroll second and third in first two legs

Trainer Josie Carroll, who sent out Victory Romance and Authenicat to finish second and third in the Woodbine Oaks, watched those fillies fill those slots again in the Bison City.

Authenicat, ridden by Robert Landry, was the runner-up this time, with Victory Romance, under Emile Ramsammy, a half-length back in third.

All being well, Victory Romance will proceed to the Wonder Where, while Authenicat, who is Ontario-sired, will follow a different path.

Royal Oath improves in King Edward

Royal Oath had kept good company in England and Dubai, but disappointed as the favorite when making his local debut in the Connaught Cup at 1 1/16 miles on turf May 25.

Last Saturday, Royal Oath fulfilled his promise with a game victory in the Grade 2 King Edward, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that was his first start for trainer Mark Casse.

Owned by Will Farish and Bill Farish Jr., Royal Oath checked in here just prior to the Connaught Cup with the understanding that he would be turned over to Casse after making his final start for trainer John Gosden.

"I didn't really take charge of the horse until the next day," said Casse, who sent out Royal Oath to breeze five furlongs on two occasions prior to the King Edward. "He worked much better the second time. And, he was a different horse Saturday. He was on the bit, wanting to run over top of horses."

The King Edward was the first win in four tries for Royal Oath going 1 1/8 miles, the longest distance he has attempted.

"His ultimate goal when he came here was the Woodbine Mile, but that's not until Sept. 7," said Casse. "What he's going to do in between, I'm not sure."

Casse's first choice would have been to use the Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race that is the major local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile, as Royal Oath's steppingstone. But while the Woodbine Mile was moved up a week in the stakes schedule this year, the Play the King remained in its former slot and will be run on Aug. 23, just two weeks out, and Casse is not thrilled with that timing.

Seaside Retreat targets Nijinsky

Casse also was pleased with the performance of Seaside Retreat, who was beaten just a length as the third-place finisher in the King Edward.

"I thought he ran a very good race," said Casse. "There wasn't a lot of pace, and he closed pretty hard."

Casse now will aim Seaside Retreat, a 5-year-old gelding who is owned by Bill Farish Jr., for the Grade 2, $300,000 Nijinsky, a 1 1/4-mile turf race here Aug. 4.

Jambalaya has another setback

The status of Jambalaya, who has not seen action since being sidelined by a severe bone bruise after winning the Grade 1 Arlington Million last Aug. 11, again is in limbo.

Catherine Day Phillips, who trains Jambalaya and owns the 5-year-old in partnership with her husband, Todd Phillips, said the gelding was very stiff a couple of days after he breezed for the first time here June 14.

"Hopefully, it's a muscle issue," said Day Phillips. "It's heartbreaking - he was going great, and we were being so careful with him."

Day Phillips said Jambalaya's X-rays had come back clean, and the next step would be a nuclear scan.

"It's a hind leg; he's never had that before," said Day Phillips.

Kabel earns first win since comeback

Jockey Todd Kabel, who cut short his 2007 campaign last November due to weight problems and did not return to action until last Friday, rode his first winner of the meeting when he guided Pangari to victory for trainer Peter Berringer in Sunday's fourth race.

Kabel has won a total of seven Sovereign Awards, including four straight as outstanding jockey from 2003 through 2006.

* Jockey Tyler Pizarro has withdrawn his appeal of a five-day suspension handed down by the stewards last week and will serve his days this Wednesday; Friday through Sunday; and Wednesday, July 9. There will be no racing here this Thursday following the long holiday weekend.