06/03/2003 11:00PM

Post position study shows first is worst


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The inside post in main-track sprints is desirable at some tracks and undesirable at others. At Woodbine, drawing the rail is considered to be a negative.

Through Sunday, horses breaking from post 1 in Woodbine dirt sprints had won 27 of 272 races, or 10 percent. By comparison, posts 2 through 4 each won at a 15 percent rate, and post 5 won at a 13 percent clip. Post 6 hit at 14 percent, and post 7 at 12 percent. There was a predicable drop-off beyond post 7, although post 10 has fared reasonably well at 12 percent.

Horses coming from the inside post in Woodbine sprints regularly break at least a length behind the rest of the field, and often toward the gap between them and the rail.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce believes the main reason why horses break poorly from the inside is directly linked to the length of time they spend in the gate.

"It's always the kiss of death when you get the 1-hole, because they're in [the gate] so long," Pierce said. "When they stand in there for a few minutes, while they load the others, it always seems like your horse gets away flat-footed from the inside."

Pierce cited his promising 3-year-old Rock Again as a prime example. Rock Again drew the inside post in each of his first three starts, the first two of which were in sprints, and got away slowly in each of his first two outings.

Speed horses breaking from the inside are often rushed into contention, and sometimes get used up pressing the pace. Other obstacles that horses occasionally have to overcome after breaking from the rail include traffic problems and a dead rail.

Track bias report

The inside seemed like the dullest part of the track throughout much of last weekend. Outside runners dominated Saturday, until it rained midway through the card, creating a wet-fast track that seemed to play fair from races 7 through 10.

The inside two paths appeared detrimental to runners in the first six races Saturday. Horses who ran against the bias include Vage, Touch of Ginger, Bedazzle 'Em, Unpredictable K D, Proper Manners, Oriental Doll, Northern Executive, Knotty Behaviour, Tacky Affair, and Vobiscum.

The rail probably wasn't the place the place to be on Sunday. Horses who saved ground in races include Ordinary Paula, Kinuseo Falls, Indian Trouble, Cat Striker, Digger's Ridge, Bronze Bayou, Florida Recount, Silver Axe, Purely Judith, Florence, Classic Prince, and Nancy's Slave.

May 19: The rail seemed mildly bad this day. Runners who chose the inside path include The Menehounie, Southernblue, Open Concert, Tepu Sultan, Clibrig, Western Sunrise, Believable Host, Relaunch Star, Real Beauty, Winter Garden, Clouds of Gold, Sultry Fluff, Twice Bid, and Chasing Stanley.

May 14: Front-runners and pace-pressers dominated the card. Runners who closed some ground into the teeth of the bias include Dancer's Pallisade, Vobiscum, Expected Rain, and Southern Sweet.

May 10: The rail was very good. Horses who ran wide and against the bias include Ella's Forum, You're Such a Deee, Sweet Dynamite, Soaring Free, Open Chronicle, Urban Space, Yagudin, Warplane, Chanceisalady, Midway West, No Comprende, Attest, Peef, and El Gran Maestro.

Too Late Now seeks rare double

Too Late Now will try to become the first Selene Stakes winner in 12 years to also win the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, formerly the Canadian Oaks, at Woodbine on Sunday. Dance Smartly accomplished the feat in 1991 for trainer Jim Day, who also trains Too Late Now.

The seven-furlong Fury Stakes has been the most successful Oaks prep in recent years. The Fury winner won the Oaks from 1997-2000, and last year's Fury runner-up, Ginger Gold, also won the Oaks.

This year's Fury winner, Elusive Thought, is skipping the Oaks. Mountain Dawn, Buffalo Jump, and Brattothecore, second, third, and fourth in the Fury, are all in the Oaks lineup.