07/29/2002 11:00PM

Nymphenburg heads to breeding shed


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nymphenburg probably would have been odds-on to defend her title in the Victoriana Stakes on the holiday Monday program. But Nymphenburg, a 6-year-old owned by Knob Hill Stable and trained by Alec Fehr, instead is headed for a new career as a broodmare.

"We've decided to retire her," said Fehr. "I sent her home [Monday]. She's had a little problem with a tendon, and we scanned it and she had a little hole in there."

Nymphenburg, a homebred by San Romano out of the Val de l'Or mare Schonbrunn, retires with a record of 5 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds, and earnings of $424,715 from 20 career starts.

Her lone stakes score came in the Victoriana, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares. But she ran well in other major turf stakes, finishing second here in the Grade 2 Canadian and a close fourth in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor.

Nymphenburg also placed in three main-track stakes, finishing second here in the Ontario Matron and third in Fort Erie's Bison City and Woodbine's Classy 'n Smart.

Fehr still will be hoping to make his mark in the filly and mare turf ranks here with Chopinina, a 4-year-old Knob Hill homebred who has been very impressive in capturing her two starts this year.

Chopinina, who finished third here last July in the Ontario Damsel over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf, has won her second and third conditions this year, at a mile and 1 1/16 miles on grass.

"I think she's cut out to be a very nice horse," said Fehr. "I'm taking it a little bit easy with her now. There really wasn't that much for her so we made the decision to wait a little bit with her. I'm gearing her up for mid-August."

Ginger Gold ready for Wonder Where

Ginger Gold worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 under regular rider Richard Dos Ramos on a fast training track here Tuesday and is on target for Monday's $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes.

"She went nice and easy," said trainer Sid Attard, who caught Ginger Gold in 24 seconds for her first quarter-mile and 48 for the half.

Owned by the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson, Ginger Gold will be trying turf for the first time this year in the Wonder Where, the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies that is the final leg of the Canadian triple tiara. She won a division of the one-mile Natalma in her only turf outing last year.

Steady Ruckus unfazed

The signs did not bode well for trainer Gil Rowntree before saddling Steady Ruckus for Sunday's $105,000 Ontario Jockey Club Stakes at seven furlongs on turf.

"It started out as kind of a confusing day," said Rowntree, who trains the 6-year-old Steady Ruckus for owner Ed Lang. "And it just kept getting more confusing."

The uncertainty began when the rains came Sunday morning.

"I thought if they took it off the turf, the only thing he likes better than grass is slop," said Rowntree.

The stakes indeed was taken off the grass, before the start of the program. But then the sun came out, the track dried quickly, and the going was upgraded to fast when the fourth-race OJC rolled around.

In the meantime, jockey Jim McAleney, who had been aboard Steady Ruckus for the last 30 starts of the gelding's 35-race career, was forced to take off the remainder of his mounts after being involved in a second-race spill. McAleney's replacement, Patrick Husbands, had not ridden Steady Ruckus since the fall of 1998, in his second and third career outings.

But when the dust cleared, Steady Ruckus emerged victorious.

"It was the same racetrack he had when he just got beat in his first start of the year," said Rowntree, referring to Steady Ruckus's second to Exciting Story here May 17 in another seven-furlong race that was taken off the grass.

The OJC was the third career stakes win for Steady Ruckus, who won the one-mile Bunty Lawless here in 2000 and the 1 1/8-mile Halton here last year. Both races were contested over firm turf.

Rowntree is pointing Steady Ruckus for another crack at the Halton, in which he also finished second in 2000. The Halton is one of six yearling sales stakes, restricted to products of the local select yearling sales, to be run here Sept. 2.

In the interim, Steady Ruckus could appear in the $100,000 With Approval, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for Canadian-breds Aug. 17. The With Approval, like the OJC, is an overnight stakes that is not part of the guaranteed stakes schedule and would require a minimum of five entrants.

As for McAleney, he initially was given the all-clear after being X-rayed at a local hospital following the spill. But upon further examination, the jockey was found to have suffered a non-displaced fracture of one rib. He is expected to be out of action for two weeks.

Losing streaks on line

Soundtrack and Libretto, the first two finishers in last year's Ontario Colleen Handicap, hook up again in Thursday's seventh race at Woodbine, an $80,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

Soundtrack, a deep closer trained by Mike Doyle, is winless in 10 starts since the Ontario Colleen. Her highest placing this year came three starts back at this level, when she finished third after mounting a mild rally from off moderate fractions.

A slow pace also hindered Soundtrack's chances most recently, in a classified allowance won by Diadella. Soundtrack raced 11 lengths off the early lead and made up some ground in the stretch to end up fourth.

Libretto, owned by Stronach Stable, is also in the midst of a drought. She has run four times this year, all for trainer Joe Orseno. The best of those efforts resulted in a third-place finish in an optional claimer at Gulfstream.

Most recently, in a June 13 allowance at Belmont, Libretto finished fourth behind Volga, the runner-up here in last year's E. P. Taylor Stakes.

Libretto makes her first start for trainer Malcolm Pierce on Thursday.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink