06/08/2004 11:00PM

Oaks has just six fillies slated


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Friday's draw for the Labatt Woodbine Oaks should be short and sweet.

As of Wednesday, only six of the 66 nominees had been declared for the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race that is the premier test for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

A field of six would be the shortest since 1993, when Deputy Jane West, trained by Mac Benson, prevailed as the odds-on choice.

Benson will saddle one of the favorites for this year's Oaks, Nashinda, whom Benson trains for owner-breeder George Strawbridge Jr. Although she will not be odds-on, Nashinda is expected to vie for favoritism with Eye of the Sphynx, who races for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad.

Silver Bird, one of three Oaks entrants from the barn of trainer Reade Baker, also will be solidly supported. Baker also sends out Hong Kong Dancer and Touchnow.

My Vintage Port, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly for trainer and part-owner Ken Parsley, rounds out the Oaks field.

The riding assignments have also been set: Eye of the Sphynx (Todd Kabel), Hong Kong Dancer (Rui Pimentel), Nashinda (David Clark), Silver Bird (Jim McAleney), Touchnow (Patrick Husbands).

Kent Ridge works hard for Plate

Kent Ridge, who is heading for the Queen's Plate with just one 2004 outing under his belt, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds on the fast main track here Wednesday morning.

With regular rider Patrick Husbands in the irons, Kent Ridge broke off about five lengths behind stablemate Subsequently, a maiden 4-year-old gelding.

Tyler Gaskin, who books mounts for Husbands and occasionally doubles as an exercise rider, was aboard Subsequently, who was clocked in 1:00.20.

"They finished together, and that was what they were supposed to do," said Mark Casse, adding that he caught Kent Ridge galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.60. "It was a good work. He got a little tired, but I figure when you're going to go into the Plate off just one race, you're going to have to do some serious work."

Kent Ridge, owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk and Bill and Iris Bristow, won a first-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward over 1 1/16 miles here May 21.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run June 27.

Olympian steps up

Olympian, unbeaten in two starts here this spring, continues his ascent and is the one to beat here in Friday's feature.

The six-furlong turf race, for $45,000 to $50,000 claimers, attracted nine horses, including one main-track-only entrant.

A 7-year-old gelding owned and trained by John Cardella, Olympian has won for $25,000 and $37,500 this spring and will be trying turf for the first time in almost two years.

Olympian has certainly handled the grass well enough in the past, as he became a stakes winner in a division of the Grade 3 Play the King here in 2000.

Regular rider David Clark retains the mount on Olympian, who will begin from post 6.

Chopinina retired to stud

Chopinina, Canada's champion turf filly or mare in 2002 and a finalist in the category last year, has been retired and is in foal to Silver Charm at Windfields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario.

Owned by the Knob Hill Stable of Steve Stavro, Chopinina was trained by Jerry Meyer for her first seven starts as a 3-year-old and by Alec Fehr through her last two campaigns.

Chopinina, now 6, started just 16 times and banked $613,696 via a record of 5-2-1.

A homebred daughter of Lear Fan and Lady Aloma, Chopinina recorded her only stakes victory here in last year's Grade 3 Royal North. But her most memorable performance, and the one that may have earned her the Sovereign Award, was her strong second-place finish against males in the Grade 1 Atto Mile here Sept. 8, 2002.

Year's top breeders to be honored

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario division) will honor its top breeders of 2003 and present the Breeder of the Year and Mint Julep Cup awards at its annual awards dinner June 18 at the Doctor's House in nearby Kleinburg.

A popular feature of the awards evening is the silent auction, which raises money for LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.

Highlighting the auction is an impressive offering of 2005 stallion seasons for Ontario sires such as Bold n' Flashy, Ciano Cat, D'wildcat, Porto Foricos, Trajectory, Cat's at Home, Domasca Dan, Perigree Moon, and Randy Regent.

Auction items also will include art work; golf packages, including a round at Oakville's Glen Abbey with Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley; horse products; spa and exercise packages; and Secretariat, Seabiscuit, and Wando memorabilia.

For information on purchasing tickets contact Julie Coulter at the CTHS office at (416) 675-3602 or LongRun at (416) 675-3993, ext. 3440.