11/30/2005 1:00AM

Schooner Bay should have it easier


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Schooner Bay, who battled on the lead before weakening slightly to finish fourth in the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf Stakes here at Nov. 12, should have clear sailing in Friday's $73,500 headliner at Woodbine.

Nine fillies and mares, including the Maple Leaf's third-place finisher, Silver Impulse, have been entered for the 1 1/16-mile race, a second-level allowance with a $62,500 claiming option.

Schooner Bay, a 4-year-old owned and bred by Melnyk Racing Stable and trained by David Bell, was traveling beyond 1 1/16 miles for the first time in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf and performed admirably despite her 2 1/4-length defeat.

"I thought she ran huge," said Bell. "She didn't have an easy trip. She put one away, then got hooked again.

"At first I thought that might be it for her for the year, but she came out in excellent shape, and this race was here."

In her previous start, which came at Friday's 1 1/16-mile distance, Schooner Bay became a stakes winner, defeating Ontario-sired opposition in the Oct. 10 Classy 'n Smart.

Emile Ramsammy retains the mount on Schooner Bay, the co-highweight at 121 pounds.

Silver Impulse rallied to finish a length ahead of Schooner Bay in the Maple Leaf, which also was her longest trip.

A 3-year-old owned by B and B Stable and Winston Penny, Silver Impulse also boasts a stakes win at 1 1/16 miles, having captured the Ontario Lassie here last December.

Apprentice Emma Wilson returns aboard Silver Impulse, who gets in with 112 pounds. She seeks her first win of 2005 in her ninth appearance.

Virginia Plain also drops in class after stretching out for the Maple Leaf, which was her stakes debut.

A 3-year-old trained by Jim Smith, Virginia Plain came into the Maple Leaf off a first-level allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 5.

Virginia Plain will be ridden by Jim McKnight for the seventh time in as many career outings and will carry 117 pounds.

Friday's 10-race card also includes a first-level allowance for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs that originally was part of the card canceled one week earlier.

Ramsammy also has a live mount there in Ballado Dancer, who was beaten a half-length as the runner-up in the Sept. 25 Swynford at seven furlongs.

Ballado Dancer, who came back to finish second at 2-5 in a first-level allowance at six furlongs, will race with blinkers off for trainer Mark Casse.