07/14/2004 12:00AM

Puffer team looks like a winner


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mark Frostad and jockey Todd Kabel have been the most successful combo on the turf at Woodbine this year, and they will team up with Puffer in Friday's feature, an $80,000 optional claimer on the turf.

Kabel gave Puffer an excellent ride when they captured the With Approval Handicap last August. He waited until mid-stretch before asking Puffer for all he had in that nine-furlong event, and they prevailed by a half-length over Hard Edge.

Assistant trainer Hugh Chatman said timing your move is the key to riding Puffer, who is often headstrong.

"The main thing with him is to try and get him covered up," Chatman said. "If you move him too soon, he hangs."

Puffer has run with mixed results in his four outings this year. He rallied for second in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds in March and finished third after making a premature move in a third-level allowance April 9 at Keeneland.

Puffer was fourth in another Keeneland allowance April 23 and was beaten about four lengths here most recently, when sixth in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup Stakes.

Puffer returns from a six-week layoff Friday, and he usually fires one of his better shots when fresh.

P.J.'s Paulie Boy, who will run with an $80,000 tag, should be closing prominently from far back in the seven-horse field. He defeated second-level allowance opposition two starts ago and was recently third in a one-mile race at this level. Jono Jones retains the mount.

Relaunch Star figures to set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile contest, with Sir Blitz and Hard Edge nearby.

Relaunch Star won two of nine starts in 2003, including a victory in an optional claimer at this distance over a course rated as good. He failed to exhibit much staying power in his three appearances this year, but is getting a rider switch to Jim McAleney and could hang on for a minor award.

Sir Blitz pressed a moderate pace before giving way to Classic Stamp when second in a one-mile event June 26. He rarely runs a bad race and should make some noise.

Hard Edge had a productive 2003 campaign, winning three of 10 starts, but he has been a disappointment this year. He dropped down to $50,000 three weeks ago and finished second in an effort that might instill some confidence in him.