06/08/2009 12:00AM

Plan B works out for Fairlie


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last fall, trainer Scott Fairlie had a pair of promising Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies in Cawaja Beach and Milwaukee Appeal.

But while Fairlie initially had much higher hopes for Cawaja Beach, it was Milwaukee Appeal who was in the stakes winner's circle following her emphatic 3 3/4-length victory in the $503,200 Woodbine Oaks on Sunday.

"It's absolutely awesome," the 44-year-old Fairlie said the morning after watching Milwaukee Appeal give him his most lucrative victory since he took out his trainer's license in 1985. "I haven't come down yet - I'm as high as a kite."

Cawaja Beach was flying high last fall, winning her first four starts, including three stakes, capped by the Victorian Queen here Oct. 1.

Milwaukee Appeal had won two races to that point - a maiden $40,000 claimer and a first-level allowance race.

"Cawaja Beach had never been turned loose," Fairlie said. "I thought if I had an Oaks horse at the time, she was it. There was no question to me she'd go two turns."

But after Cawaja Beach emerged from the Victorian Queen with a lesion in a tendon, any Woodbine Oaks dreams that Fairlie may have harbored for that filly went up in smoke.

Fortunately for Fairlie, Milwaukee Appeal stepped into the breech, finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth and winning the 1o1/16-mile Ontario Lassie in the last two starts of her juvenile campaign.

"She just kept improving and improving," Fairlie said.

Milwaukee Appeal then wintered in Florida and opened up her 3-year-old campaign with a 1 3/4-length score in the six-furlong Star Shoot here April 19.

In what was her only other start prior to the Woodbine Oaks, Milwaukee Appeal finished third behind the seasoned invader Hooh Why and the locally based but winter-raced Tasty Temptation in the 1o1/16-mile La Lorgnette on May 17.

"I was very confident," Fairlie said. "The filly couldn't have been going into the Oaks any better."

Milwaukee Appeal also had a new rider for the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks as Stewart Elliott, who is based at Monmouth Park, replaced Na Somsanith, who had ridden the filly in her first eight outings.

"Na did a great job with the filly," Fairlie said. "I knew this was going to be one of the most important races of her career, and I've always admired Stewart."

All remaining well, Milwaukee Appeal should make her next start in the $250,000 Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race that follows the Woodbine Oaks as the second leg in the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here June 28. The Wonder Where, a $250,000 race over 1 1/4 miles of turf here July 25, completes the series.

Meanwhile, Cawaja Beach underwent stem-cell therapy and a long period of recuperation before returning to the racetrack this spring.

Last Sunday, Cawaja Beach recorded her second breeze, going four furlongs in 50.40 seconds.

"Everything looks excellent," Fairlie said. "If everything goes smoothly, hopefully she'll be ready towards the end of July."

Balky starts hurts Tasty Temptation

Tasty Temptation, the other leading hometown hopeful in the Woodbine Oaks, had her chances severely compromised when she hesitated at the start and she finished 5o1/2 lengths clear of third-place finisher Miss Blakely as the 9-5 favorite.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed, but I'm proud of my filly," said trainer Mark Casse, who watched Tasty Temptation make up a double-digit deficit before being unable to match Milwaukee Appeal through the stretch. "This is a good bunch of horses. I did say Milwaukee Appeal was the horse to beat, and it makes me feel good that that the two were so far in front of the others."

Prior to the Woodbine Oaks, Casse and owner Bill Farish had discussed the possibility of running back Tasty Temptation in the June 21 Queen's Plate.

"We'll see how she is in the next couple of days and see how the numbers stack up," Casse said. "It all depends on her."

Ginger Brew, last year's Woodbine Oaks winner, came back two weeks later to be beaten a head as the runner-up to Not Bourbon in the Queen's Plate.

Minor awards for U.S. shippers

The three shippers from the United States picked up minor awards in the Woodbine Oaks, with Miss Blakely ending third, Wynning Ride fourth, and Academicienne in a dead heat for fifth.

On Monday morning, Miss Blakely, Wynning Ride, and Academicienne were heading back to their respective home bases.

Miss Blakely, ridden by Eibar Coa, rallied to finish 9 1/4 lengths behind Milwaukee Appeal and a nose in front of Wynning Ride.

"I thought she ran well," said Joe Orseno, who trains Miss Blakely at Monmouth Park and was here to saddle the filly Sunday. "She was bothered a little bit around the five-sixteenths pole, and the jock had to steady her a bit in between horses. Then she was in a dogfight to get third and she was pulling away from the other horse at the wire."

Miss Blakely, who was trying a synthetic surface for the first time, has won two races on turf, including Gulfstream Park's Boynton Beach on April 19.

"I'll get her ready for the Wonder Where," Orseno said. "I like to give my horses time. She handled the Polytrack well, but I do think she's a little bit better on grass."

Wynning Ride, who had shipped in from Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert, was making her second start of the year, following a second-place finish at 6 1/2 furlongs on June 7.

"She came out of the race well," Baffert said. "I was a little disappointed; I thought she'd run better than that.

"I thought she might have been a little too far back early. We'll regroup and maybe come back up there later on. I've got to win a race at Woodbine one of these days."

Academicienne, making her North American and synthetic-surface debut after beginning her career in France, closed decently under jockey Alan Garcia to be beaten 12 1/2 lengths.

McLaughlin will point Academicienne for the Wonder Where, although he would not entirely rule out the Bison City.