04/23/2003 11:00PM

Ross trio to give it another go

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - At this time last spring, trainer John Ross was sitting pretty on the 3-year-old front with Wild Whiskey, Shaws Creek, and Tails of the Crypt all under his shed row.

Wild Whiskey, a Canadian-bred, was coming off a romping win in the Woodstock Stakes, and Shaws Creek, another Queen's Plate eligible, had finished a strong third in the Achievement.

Tails of the Crypt, bred in Kentucky, had run second in the Tampa Bay Derby and was pointing for the open races on the Plate trail.

Although none of the three subsequently could be considered a total disappointment, Ross still can dream of what might have been.

Shaws Creek, owned by the Jam Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds, went on to win the Queenston and Plate Trial but then finished sixth as the third choice in the Queen's Plate and could finish no better than third in three subsequent 2002 outings.

Tails of the Crypt, also owned by Jam Jar, ran second in the Marine and was an impressive winner of the Victoria Park, but had just a second-place finish to show for his final five appearances of the year.

Wild Whiskey, owned by Gary Wellwood and Larry Titchner, faltered to finish eighth in the Queenston and then was off for six months with a shin problem. Wild Whiskey returned with a victory here Nov. 7 but then missed his final stakes engagement of the year with a quarter crack.

Of the threesome, only Wild Whiskey has started this meet, and the news was not good following his fourth-place finish as the favorite in the April 11 Jacques Cartier.

"He broke awkwardly and overreached himself," said Ross. "He hit himself and took quite a good chunk off his front foot. That's why he ran terrible."

Wild Whiskey missed about 10 days of training, but Ross is hoping the foot will be shipshape for the $125,000 New Providence, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and older here May 18.

In the meantime, both Shaws Creek and Tails of the Crypt are in fine fettle and will make their seasonal bows here Saturday.

Shaws Creek runs in the day's feature, the seven-furlong Vigil Handicap for 4-year-olds and upward.

Shaws Creek, as well as Tails of the Crypt and Wild Whiskey, spent the winter at Classic Mile, Ross's regular off-season Florida haunt.

Shaws Creek's latest work came last Sunday, when he zipped four furlongs in 46.40 seconds, going in company with Tails of the Crypt.

"The campaign for the Queen's Plate took a lot out of him," said Ross of Shaws Creek. "He's a nice, fresh horse now.

"And, he won the Queenston at seven furlongs last year. You certainly know he's a decent seven-furlong horse."

Tails of the Crypt also was nominated to the Vigil but will go in Saturday's $89,000 Eclipse prep, a mile and 70-yard allowance race for 4-year-olds and upward. The Eclipse Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 race, has a purse of $150,000 and will be run May 10.

"He's better off going two turns," said Ross.

Tails of the Crypt is making his first start as a gelding Saturday. Ross had him gelded after he tired of the underachieving colt's attitude here last fall.

Arco's Gold behind schedule

Arco's Gold, the top Ross hopeful for this year's Queen's Plate, wintered in Florida and was scheduled to make his seasonal bow here in the May 3 Queenston, only to have his training program thrown out of kilter.

"It's been a tough spring here," said Ross, noting that Arco's Gold may have had trouble adjusting from the warm weather of his final weeks in Florida.

"He developed a virus. I've missed about three works since he's come back. I don't think it's a serious setback for the Plate, but it's too bad. We wanted to run him seven furlongs in the Queenston."

Ross received a clean bill of health for Arco's Gold early this week and said he will be working on plan B for the Plate.

Arco's Gold, owned by Alex and Steven DiIorio, was undefeated in three starts here last year, including the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

Fury next stop for Brattothecore

Ross also has a Labatt Woodbine Oaks hopeful in Brattothecore, who scored her third win in as many starts when she won a second-level allowance over six furlongs here last Saturday.

Owned by Jam Jar Racing Stable, Brattothecore wrapped up her 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie.

"She's just a very tough filly," said Ross. "She's another of the ones who came from Florida, but she never missed a beat or an oat."

Brattothecore is slated to make her next start in the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here May 4. The $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for the same set, goes June 8.