04/29/2003 11:00PM

Peef an intriguing new prospect for Schnitzler

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Heading into this sixth week of the Woodbine meeting, trainer Rita Schnitzler was not planning on being a participant in the Queen's Plate.

But that situation changed when Peef, a 3-year-old gelding who had been owned and trained by Sue Leslie, was purchased privately by Jurgen Schemmer's Arosa Farm and walked over to Schnitzler's barn.

Peef, a 3-year-old gelding by Langfuhr, won at first asking here last September and wound up his four-start campaign with a third-place finish behind Arco's Gold and Mobil in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

In his only appearance this year, Peef finished strongly and was second, beaten a head, in an entry-level allowance at six furlongs.

Peef was nominated to Saturday's Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that is the next stakes step on the road to the June 22 Queen's Plate, but will not be in the lineup.

"We haven't really made any plans yet," said Schnitzler, who took over as trainer of several horses for the Arosa outfit this year. "I'm just going to get to know him a little bit, and kind of go from there."

The Queenston, which will go as the feature on the 11-race card here, attracted a field of five headed by Mobil and Quiet Dare, who will be making their first appearances of the season.

Post time for the first race Saturday has been moved up to 12:45 p.m.

Winter Garden taking on elders

Winter Garden, a front-running upsetter in her first start of the season, the April 5 Star Shoot, will face older rivals for the first time in Friday's $72,200 optional claiming feature at six furlongs.

Owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Bob Tiller, Winter Garden is the only 3-year-old in a field of eight fillies and mares, which includes an abundance of speed-oriented types.

That imbalance could open the door for a closer. Tacky Affair, who will be making her seasonal bow for the hot barn of trainer David Bell and will be ridden by leading rider Emile Ramsammy, fills that bill.

Katryan off to quick start

Abraham Katryan captured four races last week, including last Saturday's $164,700 Vigil with Wake at Noon and $89,000 Eclipse Handicap prep with Tempered Appeal, and sits alone atop the standings with 11 winners.

Wake at Noon and Tempered Appeal were among the five victories Saturday for Ramsammy, who entered the current racing week with 15 winners.

Canada's reigning horse of the year, Wake at Noon had finished fourth when he opened up his campaign here in the five-furlong Briartic, but came through with a vengeance in the Vigil.

"I think he's as good as I've had him for the last two years," said Katryan, who trains the 6-year-old Wake at Noon for his owner and breeder, Bruno Schickedanz.

The issue now facing Katryan is what to do with Wake at Noon.

"I don't want to go out of town just now," Katryan said.

"He just started to bounce back - he likes the track, he likes the atmosphere here. I just want him to win a few more races here before I start thinking about anything else."

That might be easier said than done, however, as the next regularly scheduled main-track sprint stakes for which Wake at Noon would be eligible, the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture, will not be run until July 19, and allowance spots may be difficult to find.

Katryan also would have the option of trying Wake at Noon around two turns, a task that the horse has not attempted since finishing fifth in the 2000 Queen's Plate.

Although he said he believes Wake at Noon could be a serious contender in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse here May 10, Katryan certainly would not wish to undermine the chances of Tempered Appeal, who earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102 winning Saturday's mile and 70-yard allowance prep.

Tempered Appeal, a 6-year-old horse owned by Schickedanz, had won his last start for Katryan here Nov. 14, 2001, but finished no better than fourth in seven subsequent attempts in the following 15 months.

"When he went to Florida a couple of years ago he had a bit of a rough time," Katryan said. "He must have picked up some kind of virus. It took a whole year to rejuvenate him."

Tempered Appeal had shown signs of life in his final outing at Gulfstream this March, finishing fourth over six furlongs when entered for $100,000, and rejoined Katryan here later that month.

"He's doing well this time around," Katryan said. "Ramsammy told me this is the best he's felt in a long time."

Shaws Creek out for three months

Shaws Creek, who was vanned off after finishing second in his seasonal bow in the Vigil, will miss at least three months with strained ligaments.

"It's very discouraging," said John Ross, who trains Shaws Creek for the Jam Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds. "We'd been training him all winter, and we were looking forward to the Eclipse."

* Jockey Shane Ellis will be sitting out the next six cards here after dropping appeals of two earlier three-day suspensions.