06/08/2006 11:00PM

Pedigree crucial for Oaks hopefuls


Canadian racing fans are in for a treat on Sunday as the 51st Woodbine Oaks has drawn a competitive field of 10 Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies. Trying to pick a winner in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks - the filly equivalent of the Queen's Plate - based on current form may not be enough, so consider some of the classic pedigrees of the starters.

Arguably one of the best-bred fillies in the field for long distances is Sweet Breanna, an Ontario-bred by Kentucky stallion Sahm (Mr. Prospector) out of the stakes winning Roberto mare Sweet Roberta.

Sweet Breanna, an allowance winner on May 13 with a smart 84 Beyer Speed Figure, is from the third crop of Sahm, who won the 1 1/8-mile Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont Park in 1998.

Sahm is a son of champion mare Salsabil, winner of the Irish Derby, 1000 Guineas, and Gold Seal Oaks, and a daughter herself of Flame of Tara, a champion 3-year-old filly in Ireland.

Sweet Roberta won the Grade 2 Selima Stakes and was second to Go for Wand in the 1989 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Sweet Breanna, the eighth foal of her dam, is a half-sister to long distance grass stakes winner Jaha.

Bred by Dr. John Brown's Spring Farm, Sweet Breanna was picked up for $30,000 (Canadian) from the open session of the 2004 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale by Beclawat Stable.

Garland Williamson's homebred Like a Gem, the Oaks morning-line favorite, is a grey daughter of Hollywood Futurity winner Tactical Cat and from the placed mare It's a Ruby. It's a Ruby, the 16th foal of the solid producing mare Likeashot, is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Firery Ensign (Young America Stakes) and long distance grass stakes winners Senor Verde and Kimberlight.

Like a Gem also traces back to some famous Canadian bloodlines. Her fifth dam, E.P. Taylor's Britannia, was fourth in the 1951 King's Plate behind entrymate Major Factor. Britannia's half-sister, Canadiana, is one of this country's all-time great mares who won the 1953 Queen's Plate.

Kinghaven Farm's homebred Seductively is by Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch and is the first foal of sprinting stakes winner Torrid Affair (by Queen's Plate winner Alydeed).

Torrid Affair's dam, Lover's Talk, was nominated as Canada's broodmare of the year in 2002 and has produced versatile stakes winners such as Barley Talk and Love Grows.

A rundown of the Woodbine Oaks and Canadian breeding would not be complete without mention of Sam-Son Farms, which has a regally bred filly in the field, Strike Softly.

Strike Softly's sire, Smart Strike, has produced the last two Oaks winners - Gold Strike and Eye of the Spynx. The filly's dam, Wilderness Hush, is a three-quarter sister to Grade 1 winner Wilderness Song, so the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Oaks will not be a problem for the lightly raced filly.

Wedded Woman, the Stronach Stable's Oaks starter, is best bred for the grass and her third dam, Chapel of Dreams, was a multiple graded stakes winner on the turf by the legendary Northern Dancer. Her little brother, Storm Cat, is one of the world's best sires.

Also in the Oaks field are American-sired Kimchi (Langfuhr), a half-sister to last year's Queen's Plate runner-up King of Jazz; Our Madison, another daughter of Tactical Cat; and the Ontario-sired London Snow (Trajectory), Executive Flight (Bold Executive), and Questuary (Archers Bay), whose owner-breeder Jake Howard died last week.