08/27/2006 11:00PM

Rush Bay may try International run

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ETOBIOKE, Ontario - Rush Bay was a question mark heading into the Grade 2, $301,200 Nijinsky here at Woodbine last Sunday.

But Rush Bay, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old who races for Mueller Thoroughbred Stable, turned out to have all the answers as he turned back all comers under jockey David Clark en route to a neck victory in the 1 1/2-mile turf feature.

Mark Basinger has been managing Rush Bay's fortune for his mother, Phoebe Muller, with the hope that the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Turf will be a realistic goal.

But in his last start, the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, Rush Bay was well back when well-backed over 1 1/4 miles on soft turf on July 22.

"He didn't try at all - we just had to throw that one out," said Basinger. He said Rush Bay had been under consideration for the Aug. 12 Sword Dancer at Saratoga before he opted for the trip to Woodbine.

"We looked at the timing of this race, and it just seemed to fit into our plans," Bassinger said.

While the Breeders' Cup Turf may be the target, Basinger certainly is keeping a close eye on the Canadian International, a Grade 1, $2 million turf race over 1 1/2 miles here Oct. 22.

"We would certainly entertain it," said Basinger. "It's a big deal, whether or not they like the surface."

Boost for Le Cinquieme Essai

Le Cinquieme Essai aced his prep for the Sept. 17 Woodbine Mile with a half-length victory under regular rider Steven Bahen in Saturday's Grade 2, $202,400 Play the King.

"It was great for him," said Nielsen. "It was a big boost of confidence."

A 7-year-old gelding owned and bred by Bill Scott and trained by Paul Nielsen, Le Cinquieme Essai had finished second in each of his first three starts this year, the most recent being the Sea O'Erin over one mile on good turf at Arlington on Aug. 5.

"I thought he could win there, and he ran very, very well," said Nielsen. "It was a little bit new for him. He's spent most of his career between here and Fort Erie.

"But he dropped some weight down there, and I wasn't real happy with him."

Nielsen's original intention had been to use the Arlington race as Le Cinquieme Essai's final stepping-stone to the Woodbine Mile, a Grade 1, $1 million race in which he finished third last year behind Leroidesanimaux.

But that plan changed, as Le Cinquieme Essai thrived upon his return to Woodbine.

"He put on a ton of weight, and was eating and training well," said Nielsen. "That's why I decided to take a shot and go to the Play the King. I was pretty content with the way he was.

"We'll look forward to the Woodbine Mile from here. I know the Woodbine Mile's going to come up awfully salty. I'm just glad we got this one, anyway."

Barilko passes two-turn test

Barilko ran his record to 3 for 3, all for owner-trainer Dave Dwyer and jockey Constant Montpellier, with a 5 3/4-length romp in the $100,400 Silver Deputy here Saturday.

A Kentucky-bred who was purchased for $30,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale, Barilko had won his first two starts, both at five furlongs, including the Colin. The gelding had been on the verge of being sold before the Silver Deputy but failed a veterinary examination for the prospective purchaser.

"It never bothers him, the issues he has," said Dwyer "It's just a mystery. What are you going to do, right? Just drive on."

Barilko was trying two turns for the first time in the 7 1/2-furlong Silver Deputy, but Dwyer was bullish after putting him through a pair of six-furlong drills following the Colin.

"He worked two great three-quarters," said Dwyer. "The first time he didn't go quick, the second time I tightened him down.

"You always wonder about the two turns, but he handled it great. He seems to want to go farther and farther."

Barilko's next target will be the $125,000 Swynford, which will be run over seven furlongs on the new Polytrack surface here Sept. 16.

Velvet Snow jumps up

Velvet Snow, a 5-year-old owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Bob Tiller, registered her second stakes victory in Saturday's $75,400 Belle Geste for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares.

Corey Fraser, who has ridden Velvet Snow in all but one of her 21 outings, orchestrated her last-jump nose victory in the Belle Geste over seven furlongs on turf.

"She's been very unlucky," said Tiller. "This was the perfect distance, and it didn't hurt when the turf came up a little soft.

"Even though the pace was slow, she loves to run at horses, and she was able to get up in time. It's nice to see her jump up and win like that."

Wagman tops qualifier

Shale Wagman, a locally based lawyer, owner and horseplayer, earned a trip to the 2007 Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association national handicapping championship in Las Vegas by winning a qualifying event at Woodbine over the weekend.

Wagman picked up a prize of $24,637 after his 20 selections in the two-day contest, including six mandatory races, returned a total of $122.40 for $2 win wagers.

Sheldron Uspresh picked up second money of $12,045 for his total of $105.00.

Tony Natale, with returns of $99.30, collected $6,022 as Ontarians swept the top three spots.