04/21/2004 11:00PM

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk to jump right in

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk is up against some serious opposition here in Saturday's Woodstock, a six-furlong race that is the first stakes of the meeting for 3-year-olds.

But trainer Bob Tiller and owner Frank DiGiulio are hoping to have the last laugh with Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk, who will be looking to begin a journey to the June 27 Queen's Plate when he makes just his second lifetime start after winning his debut very impressively here Nov. 23.

"We'll run him, get a race into him," said Tiller, who won 15 stakes here and was the leader in both races and money won en route to a Sovereign Award as outstanding trainer last year.

"We're looking at this race as a prep for the Queenston. He's going to be in there with winter-trained horses, and it's his first start.

"I hope he gets something good out of it. If he runs good, we'll be very happy."

The Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here May 8, is the next stop on the Plate trail.

"I believe he's a talented horse, and he'll be heard from along the way," said Tiller. "He'll pop up and surprise somebody some day."

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk, who wintered on Paul Buttigieg's Ontario farm along with the vast majority of the Tiller stock, has worked very well here in the past month.

According to Tiller, Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk's last three drills were in company with stablemate and fellow Plate nominee Twisted Wit, who won two stakes at 2.

"They were going head and head," said Tiller. "They were pretty equal, up until that last work."

That was April 16, when Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk was clocked in 1:01.20 and Twisted Wit in 1:01.60 for five furlongs. That drill may not have been a true indicator, however, as Tiller noted that Twisted Wit came out of the exercise "full of mucus."

Twisted Wit was not nominated to the Woodstock and is scheduled to make his seasonal bow in the Queenston.

Twisted Wit won his first three starts, including the six-furlong Vandal and seven-furlong Simcoe.

Then, stretching out for the first time, the gelding finished fourth in the Grade 2 Grey at 1 1/16 miles before winding up his campaign with a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

A recalcitrant sort, Twisted Wit had been a handful in the paddock and at the gate on several occasions, and continued that pattern of misbehavior in the Coronation, where he was very rank early and pulled himself into a premature lead.

"He seems to have matured well," said Tiller.

Chris's Bad Boy back quickly

Heading the probable field for next Saturday's seven-furlong Vigil Handicap is Chris's Bad Boy, who opened up his campaign with a very impressive four-length score in the six-furlong Cartier last Saturday.

"The race took a little bit out of him, but he came out of it really well," said Vito Armata, who trains Chris's Bad Boy. "He can go seven-eighths. He's just a good horse."

A 7-year-old gelding who was claimed for $47,500 here last April, Chris's Bad Boy turned back a difficult Cartier opponent in I'm the Tiger, who had arrived here from Gulfstream with excellent recent form.

Chris's Bad Boy, on the other hand, had wintered in Ontario and was making his first appearance since his 6 3/4-length score here in the Nov. 29 Kennedy Road.

"He just went and played for eight weeks, before I started training him," said Armata. "He needed a break, needed a holiday. Horses are like human beings, not machines."

Holy Bubbette may return

Holy Bubbette, the Florida shipper who took last Sunday's six-furlong Whimsical, has vanned back to her Calder base but could return to Woodbine for the Grade 3 Hendrie Handicap on May 16.

"There's a good possibility she'll run back there," said trainer David Fawkes, from Florida on Thursday morning. "She ran well over that track, and I don't see much else for her right now."

Fawkes originally had intended to leave Holy Bubbette here to prepare for the $150,000 Hendrie but reconsidered.

"I have a small operation; it's kind of hard for me to get spread out," said the trainer.

In the Hendrie, Holy Bubbette would probably be looking at a rematch with Winter Garden, who ran second in the Whimsical when making her seasonal bow for Tiller and DiGiulio.

Service for Terry Pion

A funeral service was held Thursday afternoon for Terry Pion, who died suddenly on Tuesday at age 65.

Pion was married to local trainer Rene Pion for 46 years and worked with her husband on the backstretch. She also was a longtime employee on the frontside, in Woodbine's admissions and customer services departments.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society.