06/05/2001 11:00PM

Quick Blue, who are you?


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Although based in New York, trainer Linda Rice has had Saturday's $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks on her mind all year for Quick Blue.

"Considering that she's a Canadian-bred, and she had shown quite a bit of potential in her workouts, we've had the Oaks in the back of our mind all along," said Rice. "Whether or not we were going to get there or not was, of course, always a question."

Quick Blue, owned by Joseph LaCombe, finished fifth in the slop at Saratoga in her lone start at 2 but returned with flair eight months later, scoring by 18 1/2 lengths in a Hialeah sprint.

The filly has finished second in two subsequent New York starts, the first coming over 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct April 21 and the latest over seven furlongs at Belmont May 12.

Rice had hoped to get a two-turn race into Quick Blue before venturing north for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks but was unable to fit such a venture into the filly's program.

"I've always thought she would probably get the mile and a sixteenth, the two turns, the mile and an eighth," Rice said. "Obviously, that's an unknown for us right now. So, we're hopeful."

Quick Blue, who arrived at Woodbine Monday, breezed three furlongs in 37 seconds on the main track Wednesday with Donna Burnham in the irons.

"Linda didn't want her to do too much work, just stretch her legs a little," said Burnham. "She was quite a handful this morning."

Rice also believes Quick Blue, who has a speed-oriented style, will be able to sit just off the pace if the need should arise here Saturday.

Perhaps the most intriguing element of Quick Blue's credentials is the company she kept in her last two outings.

Cat Chat, who defeated Quick Blue by 4 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct, has come back to record her third win is as many starts in the Grade 2 Nassau County, becoming the first horse to get the better of Xtra Heat in a sprint.

Victory Ride, a seven-length winner over Quick Blue at Belmont, was coming off an eye-popping 14 1/4-length debut win at Keeneland which had earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

Victory Ride should be favored at Belmont Friday in Belmont's Grade 1 Acorn, a stakes for which Cat Chat also was heading before missing some training time last week.

"I'd just as soon stay away from those two," said Rice, who is hoping the nuts in the Oaks will not be quite as tough to crack.

Post positions

Quick Blue, who will be ridden by Emile Ramsammy, will start from post 8 in the field of 12 for the Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

Dancethruthedawn, who will be looking to become the sixth Oaks winner for Sam-Son Farm and the stable's second straight under the stewardship of trainer Mark Frostad, picked up the No. 2 post at Wednesday's ceremonial draw and is Daily Racing Form's 7-5 morning-line choice.

Rice through the ages

While Quick Blue will be Rice's first Oaks representative, the trainer has sent out two winners from five career Woodbine starters, all in stakes, with her other entrants finishing second, third, and fourth.

Her winners, both 2-year-olds, were the filly Rosie O'Greta in the 1995 My Dear and the gelding Torgan in the 1997 Victoria. North Lake Jane, a 3-year-old filly, finished second in last year's Selene and Political Move, a 2-year-old colt, ended third in the 1998 Victoria. Desiderosa, a 3-year-old filly, ran fourth in the 1996 Duchess.

Rice reports that North Lake Jane was retired last fall and is in foal to Awesome Again, the Canadian-bred winner of the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic and hero of the 1997 Queen's Plate.