06/04/2009 11:00PM

Secret Wish, Day in Woodbine Oaks background


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Jim Day has saddled five Woodbine Oaks winners, the most by any trainer in the 53-year history of the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies. But when Day sends out Secret Wish in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks this Sunday, he will be in a much different position than he was with the majority of his winners.

Classy 'n Smart in 1984, Tilt My Halo in 1988, Dance Smartly in 1991, and Too Late Now in 2003 all came into the Woodbine Oaks as proven stakes performers and went to win as solid favorites. Only Tiffany's Secret broke that mold, and she was a strong second choice in 1990.

Secret Wish, on the other hand, remains eligible for a first-level allowance race and is coming in well under the radar this year as she makes her stakes debut in the Woodbine Oaks.

"I'd rather be in the spotlight in the post-race analysis," said Day, 62, who conditions Secret Wish for owner Rob Cudney.

Secret Wish, a $20,000 local yearling purchase, is a daughter of Street Cry and the Awesome Again mare Awesome Lass. While Day had been pleased with her training here last year, Secret Wish was a no-show in her debut as she trailed the field of 10 throughout a seven-furlong maiden race and was beaten 19 lengths.

"It was a complete bollocks," said Day. "She came from the outside post, and she trailed the field so far she didn't know she was in a horse race. It was embarrassing. I'd been telling Mr. Cudney all season that she was conducting herself like a nice filly. I'd hoped with her pedigree that two turns would be her strength, but we'd wanted to build off that race."

Even without that foundation, Secret Wish was a sharply improved performer two weeks later when she returned at 1 1/16 miles and finished fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in her first collaboration with jockey Justin Stein.

"She ran a good race," said Day. "I thought she had a real shot to win it at the head of the stretch, but she kind of flattened out. It was her second start, but it was more like her first race. It was a realistic effort."

Day wanted to get one more start into Secret Wish at the 2008 meeting, and although he could have settled for a maiden sprint he elected to run his filly in a first-level allowance at 1o1/16 miles. Secret Wish won by three-quarters of length under Stein at 10-1.

"That was more suitable for the direction we wanted to take with her this year," said Day.

After wintering at Day by Day Training Centre in nearby Everett, Secret Wish returned to the racetrack this winter with a long-term eye toward the Woodbine Oaks.

"She's bred well enough to have a chance," said Day. "We were hoping to wiggle and squiggle our way to get there with enough fitness under her belt to have a chance.

Now, with another three starts under her belt and in an improving mode, Secret Wish would appear to be in just that position.

In her opener here April 10, Secret Wish was close early before ending seventh in a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs. Secret Wish returned three weeks later with a third-place finish going 1 1/16 miles at the same classification with Chantal Sutherland in the irons for the first time.

"She was running against some seasoned, winter-fit horses," said Day. "She didn't have a very good trip, and was a non-threatening third. I was a little disappointed, but it wasn't a disaster."

Day, wanting one more race for Secret Wish before the Woodbine Oaks, elected to bypass the May 17 La Lorgnette and keep his filly in the first-level allowance ranks. With Stein back in the irons, Secret Wish came from well off the pace to finish third behind the promising 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Lady Shakespeare and the 4-year-old Winning Turn while leaving six other fillies and mares behind her.

"The quality of the field was quite solid," said Day. "She ran a respectable race, and galloped out strong."

Day put the finishing touches on Secret Wish here Tuesday, with a 1:01.20 five-furlong breeze over the training track with Stein in the irons.

"She's happy with herself," said Day. "I think she's ready to run as well as she can. She's pretty smart. She runs a fairly strategic race; she gives herself a chance from off the pace."

My Bad works in company

My Bad, who is coming off an impressive 1o1/16-mile allowance victory for owner-breeders Carlo and Lou Tucci, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 here Friday in preparation for the Juneo21 Queen's Plate. With regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons, My Bad began the workout in company with a stablemate.

"There ended up being four of them that went together, with two that broke off in front of them," said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to My Bad's trainer, Nick Gonzalez. "They kind of let them go on, which got him to relax even more, and then he galloped out in front of them. It worked out perfect."

In his last outing, which was his first around two turns, My Bad stalked in second place and then took command in the stretch for a 2 3/4-length victory in a restricted second-level allowance.

My Bad is not nominated to the $1 million Queen's Plate but the Tuccis plan to ante up the $25,000 supplementary on June 18, the day of entries for the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

* Jennifer Morrison will host a Woodbine Oaks seminar beginning at 11 a.m. here Sunday on the third floor of the grandstand. Morrison's guests will be trainer Reade Baker, who will saddle High Mist for the Woodbine Oaks, and jockey Constant Montpellier, who rides Politelyprecocious.

* Woodbine has a website with coverage of the Oaks: woodbineoaks.com.