05/16/2002 11:00PM

Sambuca on Ice streaks into New Providence

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - After winning only once last year, Sambuca on Ice is on a roll, and on Sunday he goes for his third straight win in the $130,500 New Providence.

Sambuca on Ice, a 5-year-old, was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Rita Schnitzler and owner Frank Romano in his third career appearance here in June 2000, and recorded a win and two seconds from four starts over the balance of that year.

But last year he scored just once in nine outings.

"I had a lot of trouble getting him into races," said Schnitzler. "I'd enter him in the right spot, but have to put him in the wrong spot. This year, it's been no trouble at all.

"He's had his ups and downs, but he did really good after a nice winter off this year. I think he's just matured, and all his problems are good right now."

Sambuca on Ice opened up his current campaign with a second-place finish for $40,000. He then made short work of $50,000 rivals and won again in a second-level allowance race.

"I started him off fairly low, where we thought he could win," said Schnitzler. "He's gotten better with each race. He's in great shape, so we'll give him a shot."

Embattle fresh for Trial

Schnitzler also has a Queen's Plate candidate in Embattle, who is coming off a second-place finish in the seven-furlong Queenston here May 4.

Embattle was returning from a six-week absence in the Queenston, his second start of the year, having won a five-furlong allowance race here opening day.

"He's probably going to go right into the Plate Trial," said Schnitzler, who trains Embattle for owner Mark Stubbs. "We're trying to go in fresh, and come up with a big effort. Hopefully he'll run well there, and we'll still have a fresh horse going into the Plate."

The Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run here June 1, with the

1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate set for June 23.

On Thursday, Embattle worked one mile in 1:42 on a fast main track under jockey Jono Jones.

"He hooked up with another horse the last five-eighths, to make him go a little faster," said Schnitzler. "He worked good; he got a little tired at the end."

Educational race for Streakin Rob

Streakin Rob, also heading straight to the Plate Trial after finishing sixth in his seasonal bow in the Queenston, worked seven furlongs in 1:29.20 Thursday under jockey Mickey Walls.

"It was just an easy seven-eighths, basically," said Jim Day, who trains Streakin Rob for Rob Cudney and Allan Kent. "He galloped out pretty strong."

Day had mixed feelings about Streakin Rob's Queenston effort.

"It wasn't a great race, it was just okay," said Day, who noted that Streakin Rob was beaten by just 4 1/2 lengths. "From our perspective we wanted to get him off the pace, and get him to run behind horses.

"That was the object of the exercise, and we accomplished that. Mickey said he got him back off the pace easier than he anticipated, and then he got farther back than he had planned on.

"The good news was he ran kindly in that position, and handled it very well, and came with a pretty good late run. The bad news is he finished sixth, in a $150,000 race."

Last fall, Streakin Rob won the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

Cotey on pins and needles

See How She Runs, an undefeated invader coming off a win in Oaklawn Park's Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes, and Ginger Gold, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly of 2001, will command most of the attention in Monday's Selene, the first Grade 1 stakes of the meeting.

That means there will be plenty of room on the bandwagon for followers of Lady Shari, who opened up her campaign with a third-place finish in the six-furlong Star Shoot but then finished last of six when facing males in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Marine.

"Up the backside, she was going so easy," said trainer Dave Cotey, who owns Lady Shari in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. "But she didn't want to switch on one lead; she wasn't striding out."

Constant Montpellier, who rode Lady Shari in her victory here in last fall's Mazarine and in second-place finishes in a pair of two-turn stakes south of the border, did not push too hard with the filly in the latter stages of that May 3 allowance.

"She came out of the race really muscle-sore, in her shoulder," said Cotey, noting that Lady Shari had experienced similar problems following a lackluster effort in her turf debut here last August. "Her legs are perfect; everything else is perfect."

While Lady Shari is coming into the Selene in good order, having responded to acupuncture treatments just as she did last season, Cotey acknowledges he's on pins and needles himself.

"I just hope she runs good," he said. "The scary thing is, you just don't almost know. She went into that last race feeling tremendous."

Connaught Cup for Stage Classic

Cotey plans to race Stage Classic in Saturday's Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes of the season.

Stage Classic defeated older rivals here in last fall's Sky Classic en route to finishing third in Sovereign Award voting for the

3-year-old male division. The gelding has raced once this year, finishing a distant fourth in a classified allowance over 1 1/16 miles.

"He stumbled out of the gate, and Constant [Montpellier] didn't beat him up," said Cotey. "We wanted a prep for him, and the other race he entered in didn't go, so we got stuck. I'm not a big fan of going two turns first time out."

Horse cleared, jock isn't

No Comprende, who had been disqualified and placed last in the seventh race here last Sept. 23, has been reinstated as the winner after an appeal by his owner, Dennis Brown, was allowed by the Ontario Racing Commission Wednesday.

In a related move that would appear to defy rational explanation, the ORC dismissed the appeal of Patrick Husbands, who had been issued a three-day suspension by the stewards for his ride aboard No Comprende that day.

Husbands will serve the suspension Sunday, May 26; Wednesday, May 29; and Friday, May 31.