11/20/2001 12:00AM

Physically incorrect colt puts on show in maiden win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It's a rare occurrence when a maiden $50,000 claimer can steal the spotlight.

But that's exactly what happened here at Woodbine last weekend when Classic Mike, a 2-year-old first-time starter, recorded a 13-length victory in last Saturday's fifth race.

Breaking from the outside post in the field of 12, Classic Mike was reserved just off the early pace by rider Laurie Gulas but had hit the front before going a half-mile in 45.33 seconds. He opened a six-length lead through three-quarters in 1:10.08, and widened under mild urging to stop the timer in 1:22.44.

That clocking, which earned Classic Mike a Beyer Speed Figure of 88, was .74 seconds faster than that of Saint Appeal, a promising 2-year-old who won a maiden special weight race later on Saturday's program.

Classic Mike, owned and bred by Dom Romeo and trained by Reade Baker, was offered here at the select yearling sale.

The colt, by Smart Strike, is the first foal of Regent N' Flashy, who was unraced but is a half-sister to multiple stakes winners Bold N' Flashy, who earned $362,231, and Flashy N Smart, who banked $358,475.

But despite his pedigree, Class Mike did not attract a bid, and was bought back for $15,000.

"Probably the best way to put it is that he was not perfectly correct," said Baker, who brought Classic Mike in to the track early this year.

"He had a couple of sets of shins," said the trainer, explaining Classic Mike's late start. "But I knew what he was, in comparison to Wolverine. He's as a good a horse as he is."

Wolverine, owned by Baker in partnership with Derek Cornelius, has started twice in maiden special weight company, finishing second at five furlongs and then graduating gamely at seven furlongs.

Still, Baker believed the best course of action was to run Classic Mike for the claiming price.

"With those legs, I wanted to put as little pressure on him as possible," said Baker. "That's why I ran him for $50,000, instead of maiden allowance.

"And anyone who's going to spend $50,000 to claim a horse is going to take a close look at his conformation; and he wouldn't pass that test."

Classic Mike will not see action again this year. He will winter at nearby Huntington Stud Farm and begin gearing up for a 3-year-old campaign, which is unlikely to begin in the claiming ranks.

Wolverine, a colt by Matter of Honor, worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 Monday and is slated to make his stakes debut in the $125,000 Kingarvie here closing day, Dec. 2.

Baker has been pointing Wolverine for the Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, since his maiden victory Oct. 27.

"He should have no problem at all with the distance," said the trainer. "He has the perfect temperament; he's very tractable."

Baker also will send out one of the favorites in Sunday's stakes, as Gonetofarr, owned by George Farr, is on target for the $135,000 Ontario Lassie.

The Ontario Lassie is a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

"She's really doing well," said Baker, who sent out Gonetofarr to win an entry-level allowance over seven furlongs here Nov. 10 after watching her finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth four weeks earlier.

Rare Friends to farm, not New York

Rare Friends, who had been under consideration for Sunday's Huntington at Aqueduct, will not be making the trip.

"He's going to the farm," said trainer Bob Tiller, who also owns Rare Friends in partnership with Frank DiGiulio. "They know him here - with his gate antics, we don't want to take any chances."

Rare Friends, winner of three sprint stakes and $247,365, is a leading candidate for the Sovereign Award in the 2-year-old colt or gelding category.

Any takers for I and I?

What a difference a year can make.

I and I earned $200,000 for finishing second in the 2000 Queen's Plate, but will compete for just a $25,000 claiming price in Thursday's eighth race at Woodbine.

I and I notched the only win of his career as a 2-year-old in the 1999 Simcoe Stakes. He placed in five other stakes during his first two years on the track, but missed the first two-thirds of the current Woodbine meet because of an ownership dispute.

Trainer W.L. Clayton dropped I and I in for just $32,000 in his first start of the year against nonwinners-of-three Oct. 5, and watched him finish a distant fifth after lagging way off the early pace.

Bob Tiller won a shake for I and I that day, and has since run him twice at the first allowance level. I and I finished seventh on both of those occasions, but will face much easier nonwinners-of-two opposition Thursday with Constant Montpellier picking up the mount.

Completing the field for the 1 1/16-mile race will be Good Company, Time on the Run, Big Sid's Party, On the Bay, Quincy's Quest, Pentmandy, Northern Gold, and Personal Secret.

Big Sid's Party was a beaten favorite against $32,000 rivals in his first attempt with Lasix last Friday. He was previously second at this level to the improving Cadenhead, and could rebound in his second try with the diuretic if he can handle the quick comeback. Kathy Patton trains.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink