06/24/2002 11:00PM

Ross looks to Tails of the Crypt

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - John Ross couldn't hide his disappointment over Shaws Creek's sixth-place finish in last Sunday's Queen's Plate.

, owned by the Jam-Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds, was highly regarded off his score in the Plate Trial but never got into the hunt for jockey Jake Barton after breaking from the outside post in the field of 13.

"I'm getting tired of winning all the battles but never winning the wars," said Ross, who trained Catahoula Parish when he captured the 1999 Trial and finished seventh in the Plate for the Jam-Jar outfit.

But Ross, speaking outside the barn at Woodbine on Tuesday, was preparing to return to the front lines with Tails of the Crypt, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old who could face older rivals here in Monday's Dominion Day Handicap.

A Kentucky-bred who campaigns for the Reynoldses, Tails of the Crypt is coming off a romping win in the Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds here June 8. He would carry 115 pounds in the Grade 3 Dominion Day, a 1 1/4-mile race worth $200,000.

"We're sincerely considering it," said Ross. "He loved a mile and an eighth; he'll love the mile and a quarter even better."

Tails of the Crypt also has been nominated to the Grade 3 Toronto Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds here July 13.

And Shaws Creek, apparently none the worse for wear after his Plate jaunt, will be looking to regroup in the $500,000 Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that is the second leg at the Canadian Triple Crown, at Fort Erie July 21.

"The horse came out of the race in great shape," said Ross. "He was just the victim of a nothing, slow pace.

"Jake was very honest when he said he messed up; those were not our plans. We wanted to be no worse than fourth but for some reason, Jake admitted, he did not get the horse up there on the turn."

Shaws Creek, in fact, trailed the field with a half-mile to run before rallying mildly to be beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

"He ate a bunch of dirt back there," said Ross, "and didn't get into the race. It's unfortunate, but that's part of racing. Jake had just ridden two great races on him."

A brighter note for Ross here last Sunday was the performance of Mister Coop, a Canadian-bred 3-year-old whom he trains for the RMC Stable of Syd and Richard Cooper.

"I figure the way the horse came out of the race, and the way he's running, we could go to the Prince of Wales with him," said Ross.

Making just his third career start and traveling around two turns for the first time, Mister Coop had little trouble disposing of odds-on favorite Soaring Free, winning the first-level allowance race by 3 3/4 lengths under David Clark.

"He's really a horse that was slow starting out," said Ross, "but he's progressing, and learning more and more. He's a very exciting prospect."

Ginger Gold puts in five-furlong work

Ginger Gold, impressive winner of the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds under regular rider Richard Dos Ramos on a fast training track here Tuesday and should be making her next appearance in Monday's Labatt Bison City at Fort Erie.

The $250,000 Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, which concludes with the $250,000 Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf here Aug. 5.

Ginger Gold, who is owned by the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson and trained by Sid Attard, would pick up a $350,000 bonus if she swept the series.

Follow the Piper a bounce candidate

Form cycle handicappers could be in a quandary here Thursday sizing up the chances of Follow the Piper in the fourth race, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for $62,500 optional claimers.

Follow the Piper, a Sam-Son Farm homebred, returned from a nine-month layoff to eke out a win in a June 8 preliminary allowance. He fought tooth and nail down the stretch that day to score by a neck over Funny Soldier, who went on finish a bang-up third in the Charlie Barley Handicap last Sunday.

Even though turf horses tend to bounce with less regularity than dirt runners, Follow the Piper is liable to bounce off that taxing comeback effort and could be viewed as a vulnerable favorite Thursday.

Todd Kabel will ride Follow the Piper for trainer Mark Frostad, who sent out Portcullis to capture the Charlie Barley.

Also in the fourth-race lineup are Culloden, Merlin's Moon, Canajun Cajun, Swedespin, and River Boat.

River Boat, who will run with a $57,500 claiming price, is winless since taking the Grade 2 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at 40-1 in September 2000.

A 9-year-old owned and trained by Frank Huarte, River Boat finished far back in his seasonal debut, the Grade 3 Connaught Cup Stakes, and was recently fourth in an $80,000 event.

Merlin's Moon has a viable chance to win in his fourth start off the bench. A consistent 4-year-old, Merlin's Moon hasn't missed a check in five turf starts for trainer Catherine Day-Phillips.

Most recently, in a $62,500 optional claimer, Merlin's Moon gave favored Full of Wonder a run for his money, giving way grudgingly in the stretch to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind that rival in second.

Swedespin encountered traffic problems when he ran third in his first start of the year here May 31, when he was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Josie Carroll.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink