10/29/2002 12:00AM

Ross weighs options for Arco's Gold


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer John Ross was doing some serious soul-searching here Tuesday after watching Arco's Gold, who is undefeated in two starts, work four furlongs in 47.40 seconds on a fast main track.

Arco's Gold, a 2-year-old colt owned by Alex and Steven DiIorio has won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special on Sept. 8 and a seven-furlong, first-level allowance on Oct. 13.

Being a Cana-dian-bred, Arco's Gold is eligible for Saturday's Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8-mile race worth $250,000. Another stakes option for him would be the Display, a non-restricted 1 1/16-mile race worth $125,000 here Nov. 16.

"I'm teeter-tottering," said Ross, who caught Arco's Gold galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40 in Tuesday's work under regular rider Constant Montpellier. "The Display is a little shorter and there's more space in between. Probably, the best thing you can do would be to go from seven furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. But then, you've got to look at the competition."

The Display lineup likely will include Gigawatt, a Kentucky-bred who would be coming off a second-place finish to Breeders' Cup Juvenile also-ran Wando here in the Grey Stakes.

Entries for the Coronation were to be drawn Wednesday.

Feathers fits Ontario Fashion

There's something about the Ontario Fashion that brings out the best in Feathers. A 5-year-old mare owned by Tooth & Nail Stable and trained by Ralph Biamonte, Feathers won the six-furlong Fashion for the second consecutive year here on Saturday, winning by a half-length under new rider Jim McKnight.

"I guess she's just an old-fashioned gal," said Biamonte, after watching the mare whom he has trained throughout her career score her third stakes victory.

But Biamonte wasn't laughing this summer when Feathers contracted the potentially lethal West Nile virus.

"She was lethargic and off her feed," he said. "She had symptoms like a 'wobbler' " - a horse suffering from a neurological disease of the spine. "Her skeletal system was kind of weak.

"The ones that go down usually can't get up, but she didn't get to that stage."

Feathers made it through the precarious first 48 hours under the watchful eyes of veterinarians Ted Coker and John Starmer, and was showing signs of recovery by the third day.

"Once we got over the critical time, we thought about sending her to the farm," said Biamonte, who opted instead to put the filly back in training as her rapid recovery continued.

And the result was on display in the Fashion, as a fresh and fit Feathers made her first appearance in eight weeks a winning one.

"She came out of the race okay," said Biamonte, who also sent out third-place finisher Miss Sweep in the Fashion. "So should be really good coming into the Bessarabian."

Feathers will be seeking her second win in Bessarabian, a seven-furlong race in she which she finished second last year after winning it in 2000. This year's edition will be run on Nov. 17.

Biamonte also plans to run Miss Sweep back in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bessarabian. A 4-year-old filly, Miss Sweep was making her stakes debut in the Fashion. "I think seven furlongs will be better for both of them," Biamonte said.

Incidentally, Feathers overcame a mid-year illness before winning last year's Fashion, too. "She had a virus for three months," said Biamonte. "We sent blood samples to four labs but we never found out what it was."

Stronach entry looks good Thursday

The Stronach Stable entry of El General and El Soprano will be strongly backed here in Thursday's featured eighth race, a 1 1/8-mile allowance on the grass.

El General was might have been best when finishing seventh in a one-mile race at this nonwinners-of-two-other-than condition on Oct. 14, when he was blocked for virtually the entire stretch and had to be checked. He won his previous race, a one-mile allowance, and will make his third start off a three-month layoff Thursday for trainer Malcolm Pierce.

El Soprano, the top local 2-year-old on grass in 2001, is winless in five appearances this year for trainer Roger Attfield. He was second to Portcullis in the both the Toronto Cup and Breeders' Stakes in the summer, but is coming off a dismal eighth-place finish over yielding turf in the Chief Bearhart Stakes.

Completing the field for the $74,400 race are: Indy Lead, Lenny the Lender, Merlin's Moon, High Speed Travel, Funny Soldier, Wolf Howl, Classic Case, Lucky Old Sun, and Rhodesian Storm.

Attfield also sends out California import Indy Lead, who won his local debut in a main track allowance Oct. 12. A son of A.P. Indy, Indy Lead prefers the main track, but wasn't beaten all that badly in his two career turf starts.

Ex-jockeys Fisher and Clark are dead

Bobby Fisher and Tommy Clark, two longtime local racetrackers, died Oct. 23, following lengthy illnesses.

Fisher, 74, was successful here in recent years as the owner, trainer, and breeder of Swamp Line, who won the Frost King Stakes in 2000 and earned $175,848. He also made a name for himself as a jockey, winning the 1947 Prince of Wales Stakes aboard Burboy and was second with the same horse in the Queen's Plate.

Clark, 61, was a jockey and later worked as a jockey's agent. He also will be remembered for his volunteer work on the backstretch, which included a major role in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

* Larry Todd has been appointed vice chairman of the Ontario Racing Commission for a three-year term. Todd, a lawyer with a practice specializing in civil litigation and administrative law, has been a licensed Standardbred owner and driver for more than 30 years.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink