07/28/2004 11:00PM

River Downs: Barnsy formidable

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Barnsy, a dominating winner of the Petro Memorial at Thistledown last month, should be a solid favorite to notch her second stakes win of the year in the Queen City Oaks at River Downs. The nine-furlong Oaks is the richest Ohio-bred race of the meet, with a purse of $75,000.

With her 5 1/2-length victory in the Petro Memorial, her first in a stakes, Barnsy began to live up to the promise she displayed early in her 2-year-old season. While most of her peers began their racing careers in state-restricted events, Barnsy cut her teeth against some of the most precocious 2-year-olds in the country. Her debut victory over several next-out winners occurred in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. She then ran fourth in the Fashion Stakes at Belmont.

Following the Fashion, Barnsy was the beaten favorite in two statebred stakes, but since returning from a brief freshening in May she has easily won her two starts against fillies. Barnsy enters the Oaks off a fifth against colts in the Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown.

Spring Cat and Happy Endings Too, the second- and third-place finishers in the Petro, are the main threats to Barnsy. Spring Cat, the early pacesetter in the Petro, had no response when Barnsy challenged for the lead inside the quarter pole, yet finished well clear of Happy Endings Too for second.

Happy Endings Too defeated Spring Cat recently in a 4 3/4-length win in the Cincinnatian Stakes over the turf at River Downs, but might have been better suited to the surface than Spring Cat.

Toot Bird and Precocious are two longshot possibilities. Toot Bird, a two-time winner with a stamina-oriented pedigree, is looking to rebound from a dull fourth in allowance company and will be ridden by leading jockey Dean Sarvis.

Precocious was not, as her name might imply, an early achiever. In fact, the half-sister to 1999 Queen City Oaks winner Naughty debuted only three weeks ago, winning a statebred maiden race in the mud by nearly five lengths.