11/14/2007 1:00AM

Pierce plans to race large string at Fair Grounds

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - It was a damp and gray morning here at Woodbine on Wednesday and trainer Malcolm Pierce was battling a terrible cold.

But at least Pierce could envision some warm and sunny days ahead as he was planning to depart from Woodbine on Thursday and be in New Orleans at Fair Grounds in time to greet his first load of shippers.

"The first 12 leave Friday, and five more on Monday," said Pierce. "We're going to get busy down there pretty quick."

Pierce, 50, had been a longtime assistant trainer for Sam-Son Farm before striking out on his own. He saddled his first career winner at Fair Grounds in 1998.

He has set up there several times in the interim, including the 2006-07 meeting, where he sent out 13 winners from 48 starters.

This year, Pierce has 28 stalls at Fair Grounds, but his barn will remain active here under the guidance of his wife and assistant, Sally.

"We've got some allowance races, some maidens to try to get broke," said Pierce, who had sent out 25 winners here this year heading into Wednesday's program. "Hopefully, we'll win some more races here before the meeting's over."

One race which the Pierces particularly would like to win is the $150,000 Bessarabian, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares here next Sunday. His barn will be represented by One Across.

"It will be a tough race, but I've got to give my filly a chance," said Pierce. "Still, I'd rather she'd had that last race, rather than running around loose."

One Across, a 4-year-old, was the 6-1 third choice when making her stakes debut in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion here Nov. 3 but reared at the start and unseated her rider, Patrick Husbands.

"I thought she couldn't be worse than second, she was training so well," said Pierce, who had watched One Across win her first two allowance conditions in her two starts prior to the Ontario Fashion.

"She's been back to the gate twice since then, and she's been absolutely fine. I think it was just kind of a fluke thing."

Meanwhile, down in New Orleans, Pierce will be planning to send out Autobahn Girl in the $60,000 Pago Hop, a turf race for 3-year-old fillies at about one mile on Nov. 24.

Autobahn Girl, a Kentucky-bred owned by Live Oak Plantation, joined Pierce here this fall and finished 10th in her local debut, the 6o1/2-furlong Ruling Angel on Oct. 24.

"She disappointed here, for no apparent reason," said Pierce. "Maybe the race wasn't long enough. We'll give her a try on the grass."

Pierce also is hoping for good things at Fair Grounds from Quench, a 3-year-old gelding.

Quench has won three in a row, sandwiching a pair of seven-furlong Polytrack wins around a six-furlong turf score while progressing from the maiden ranks through his second allowance condition.

"We'll see if he can handle two turns on the turf," said Pierce. "If he does, we'll think about the Woodchopper."

The $60,000 Woodchopper, an about one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, will be run on Dec. 24.

Others in Pierce's New Orleans string include Saoirse Cat, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly who finished a closing fourth in the Ontario Fashion.

"She could be stakes caliber down there," said Pierce.

True Metropolitan seeks repeat

Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Autumn has attracted a competitive field of eight, including True Metropolitan, the Vancouver-based gelding who won the 1 1/16-mile stakes last year when it was known as the Woodbine Slots Cup.

Also shipping in for the Autumn is Gouldings Green, who is based in Kentucky and is 2 for 3 in previous trips to Woodbine.

The locally based runners include Leonnatus Anteas, Eccentric, Arch Hall, and Palladio, who finished first through fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup here Oct. 13.

Arden Belle gets time off

Arden Belle, the productive 4-year-old filly who was scratched from last Saturday's Maple Leaf Stakes, will not see action again this season.

"She had a minuscule problem last Friday and Saturday," said Ron Sadler, who trains Arden Belle. "If the race had been Monday, she would have been fine. It was horrible timing. I'd been looking forward to this race all year. Unfortunately, now she'll be on her way to Florida."

Arden Belle had shown promise last year but put it all together this season when she won the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too, the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone, and the 1 1/16-mile Algoma.

Bred in Ontario by Eugene Melnyk, Arden Belle also finished second, beaten a neck by She's Indy Money, in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron and earned $278,370 from seven starts.

Aristocat retired before first stakes

Aristocat, who came here to trainer Brian Lynch last month with an eye toward Sunday's $125,000 Kennedy Road, instead is headed for a career as a stallion at Adena Springs South.

A 5-year-old who is a full brother to Ghostzapper, Aristocat finished fifth when making his first start here in the six-furlong allowance prep for the Kennedy Road on Oct. 28.

"He had a couple of things, including a quarter crack, that were aggravating him," said Lynch, the main man here for Stronach Stable. "It wasn't worth running him again and damaging his chances at stud."

Aristocrat raced 17 times, winning three times and finishing third on four occasions while banking $124,499. He never started in a stakes race.