10/07/2005 11:00PM

'Seaside' gets first stakes test in Grey


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The unbeaten Seaside Retreat will make his highly anticipated stakes debut Monday at Woodbine in 97th running of the $275,750 Grey Breeders' Cup for 2-year-olds.

The Grade 3 Grey, which has been won by such standouts as Sunny's Halo and Wando, has lured a field of seven, set to go 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Seaside Retreat, a son of King Cugat trained by Mark Casse, won both of his starts easier than it appears on paper. He rallied wide to capture his debut on the main track, and then mastered the turf when he outran Bear's Kid in the allowance prep for the Summer Stakes, prevailing under a hand ride from Patrick Husbands.

"He had to go eight wide in his first start, and still won easy," Casse said. "In his second start, I didn't think it was that tough a field, but the two of them drew away at the end. Patrick never even turned his stick over."

Casse said he decided to bypass the Grade 2 Summer on Sept. 18 in order to have Seaside Retreat sharp for the Grey, and was pleased with the colt's five-furlong drill in 1:00.60 on Oct. 1.

"It was a tremendous work," Casse said. "He just doesn't get tired. He's doing wonderfully. Hopefully, he will be as good as we think he is."

Macho Uno used the 2000 Grey as the final prep for his victory in the BC Juvenile, but Casse said Seaside Retreat would have to run lights out on Monday to follow down that same path.

"He will have to run an exceptional race to go on to the Breeders' Cup," Casse said.

Bear's Kid and Badge of Truth, the first two finishers in the one-mile Summer, are also in the lineup.

Bear's Kid, who won his maiden at Northlands Park in July, led throughout most of the Summer, his first start with Lasix. His dam, Tap to Music, was a Grade 1 winner going long on the dirt, and trainer Reade Baker said he believes that Bear's Kid is just beginning to come into his own.

"The longer this horse has been here, the better he gets," Baker said. "I think that's the product of the [long] van ride, which was hard on him. I think he's just starting to show his true form now."

Badge of Truth won his maiden with authority two starts ago on the main track, before finishing just 1 3/4 lengths behind in the Summer.

"I don't know if he's better on the turf or the dirt," said trainer Malcolm Pierce.