04/20/2006 12:00AM

'Ok Nothanks' in stakes debut


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Owner K.K. Sangara and trainer Lorne Richards, who set up a division here at Woodbine in 2001, have found it to be a pleasure doing business with Mark Casse.

Several horses purchased privately by Sangara and Richards from owner/trainer/wheeler-dealer Casse have gone on to distinguish themselves, the most notable being Financingavailable.

And one of their more recent acquisitions will be on display Saturday as Ok Nothanks-foraskn makes his seasonal and stakes debut in the $125,000 Woodstock, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Ok Nothanksforaskn, a Kentucky-bred, finished fifth when trying a mile on turf in his first start for Casse. He was then purchased by Sangara as part of a package deal along with Back Pack Shack, a New York-bred who also is 3 years old.

The first to see action for Sangara and Richards was Ok Nothanksforaskn, who finished a distant third over seven furlongs of sloppy going here on Oct. 23.

In his next start, on Nov. 20, Ok Nothanksforaskn won his maiden at 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track, and Back Pack Shack followed suit one week later at five furlongs.

The two met on Dec. 8 at six furlongs, with Ok Nothanksforaskn a convincing winner and Back Pack Shack a distant eighth. The 90 Beyer Speed Figure that Ok Nothanksforaskn earned there was the best by a 2-year-old male in Canada last year.

Richards, however, is not exactly beating the drums when it comes to Ok Nothanksforaskn in the Woodstock.

"I can't say I wouldn't have liked an easier spot, and I'd have liked to have one more work in him," said Richards.

Ok Nothanksforaskn wintered at the nearby Ballcroy Trail Equestrian Centre, run by Steve Kemp, and came back to the racetrack on March 1.

"He's worked okay, but he's kind of laid-back when it comes to working," said Richards. "I can't say I've turned up the screws on him for this race. This is just a step; I want to get him stretched out eventually.

"But he's fit enough to run, and if you go on last year's races he's got to be half live in there. Maybe he'll get lucky."

'Financing' drills for 2006 debut

Richards and Sangara added to their collection of former Casse runners this winter with the private purchase of Noshamein-mygame.

A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly, Noshameinmygame was 2 for 2 here last year while competing for Sez Who Racing and Casse.

Meanwhile, Financingavailable breezed four furlongs in 50.20 seconds here Wednesday in preparation for her seasonal debut.

An Ontario-bred 5-year-old, Financingavailable saw action just three times in 2005, with her last start coming Sept. 2.

"She kicked a cement wall at the barn," said Richards. "Her leg kind of swelled up, and she didn't come around fast enough. We kind of ran out of time."

Still, Financingavailable did manage to score twice last year to run her win total to five since being acquired by Richards and Sangara in the summer of 2004.

Those successes include the 2004 Jammed Lovely and a quartet of allowance races, but because two of those allowance wins came in Ontario-sired company, Financingavailable remains eligible for a fourth-level allowance.

Financingavailable's first stakes target for this season is the $125,000 Ballade, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here June 7.

Summer Cruise in for Star Shoot

Summer Cruise, a Kentucky-bred who is based in Delaware with trainer Michael Zwiesler, checked in early Thursday morning and has been entered in Sunday's $125,000 Star Shoot Stakes.

The Star Shoot, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field of eight with Summer Cruise the lone shipper.

Summer Cruise began her career at Tampa Bay on New Year's Day and won her first two starts there in impressive fashion.

In a subsequent appearance in Laurel's six-furlong Smart Halo on April 1, Summer Cruise finished 8 1/2 lengths back in third but was beaten just a head for second money.

"She stumbled out of the gate and spotted the field a few lengths," said assistant trainer Cindy Baulieu, who accompanied Summer Cruise on her trip north. "She ran the whole way; it was a nice effort."

Summer Cruise breezed a smart five furlongs in 59.40 at Delaware prior to her departure and will have her regular rider, Oliver Castillo, in the irons for the Star Shoot.

Both Castillo and Zwiesler will be making their Canadian debuts.

Silver Highlight in Hawthorne stakes

Silver Highlight, winner of the Wonder Where at 1 1/4 miles on turf in her Canadian debut here last summer, is among eight entrants in Saturday's Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne.

The Sixty Sails, at 1 1/8 miles, will be Silver Highlight's second career try on the dirt. In her main-track debut, at Santa Anita, Silver Highlight captured a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance race in convincing fashion on March 25.

A Canadian-bred 4-year-old filly, Silver Highlight began her career in England with trainer Andrew Balding and remained in Ontario with trainer Edward Freeman after winning the Wonder Where.