08/14/2002 11:00PM

One stakes under belt, Mailhot eyes another


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Pierre Mailhot, who has been riding since 1984 and has been based at Fort Erie since 1985, won his first stakes race on Tuesday when he guided Branksome Hall to an upset victory here in the $60,000 Golden Horseshoe Stakes.

And even though the race is at Woodbine, Mailhot wouldn't be surprised if his second stakes score came on Saturday. He will be aboard the Fort Erie-based Frank's Selection for the $173,250 Play the King, a Grade 3 event on the turf.

On Aug. 2, at Woodbine, Mailhot won an allowance prep for the Play the King with the 6-year-old Frank's Selection.

It was only the second time Mailhot had raced Frank's Selection. The first time, at Woodbine July 18, they missed just by a neck.

Paul Souter, who retired early this year, had been Frank's Selection's regular rider. Mailhot, who galloped the horse in the mornings, gained the mount when it was noted that the hard-to-handle horse would not fight him.

"I galloped him every day, and this is the best the horse has ever been," said Mailhot, a 40-year-old Montreal native who won 25 races at Fort Erie last year. In 2000, he had 21 wins ,and in 1999 he had 32.

Trainer Beverly Buck used Mailhot on Branksome Hall, a $37.50 upsetter, for the first time Tuesday.

"I galloped for her last year in the spring at Woodbine," said Mailhot, who called Branksome Hall "a bad horse who tried to drop everybody. But I got along with her pretty good.

"The race went just perfect," added Mailhot. "I followed Beverly's instructions to just sit off the horses and to go inside, if possible.

"At the half-mile I was able to go straight for the hedge, and I stayed there. At the quarter pole I knew I was the winner."

Branksome Hall won by a neck. Callendars and Orientalspringhope dead-heated for second.

Prince of Wales winner still ill

Le Cinquieme Essai, winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes here July 21, was nominated to run at Woodbine in Saturday's With Approval Stakes but is still ailing.

Le Cinquieme Essai missed last Saturday's Breeders' Stakes, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at Woodbine, because he had a high temperature. Now his next date, Woodbine's Sept. 8 Atto Mile, is in jeopardy.

"It would be tough to make it," said trainer Paul Nielsen, who is based at Fort Erie, "but it's not out. He would have to be in perfect order. He'll tell us, but it's a bad virus."

Kevin Attard doubles for Schickedanz

Trainer Kevin Attard came up with back-to-back winners for his new client, Bruno Schickedanz, here Tuesday.

Schickedanz, leading owner here for the past five years, had sent Attard 19 runners at the end of July.

Sean Deveaux picked up the mount on Early Call, the first Attard/ Schickedanz winner. Neil Poznansky, on the sidelines for over a month with an injured ankle, had been named to ride him.

"Neil had won with the horse before," said Attard. "He was getting close to returning, but he's not quite 100 percent. He might be back in the coming week."