07/05/2007 11:00PM

Shaws Creek starts new role

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It's certainly unusual for an 8-year-old horse to conclude one career and begin a new one just three days later.

But that's the story of Shaws Creek, who finished seventh at the $25,000 claiming level here at Woodbine last Sunday and had begun on-the-job training as the stable pony for trainer John Ross by Wednesday.

"We just decided he'd had enough," said Ross, who trained Shaws Creek for the Jam-Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds. "He'd been so good to us through the years."

Shaws Creek won his first two starts as a 2-year-old, including the 5o1/2-furlong Clarendon, and captured the seven-furlong Queenston and 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial the following year before disappointing as one of the favorites in the Queen's Plate.

While those stakes turned out to be the highlights of a career that was compromised by physical problems, Shaws Creek went on to win seven more races and retired with a record of 10-3-3 and earnings of $662,660 from 36 starts.

Shaws Creek figured to have little appeal as a stallion and seemed destined for a life of leisure on the farm until Ross hit upon an alternative.

"I suggested to Bud that he'd make a nice stable pony," Ross said. "My pony had just died of colic.

"Bud was thrilled. It meant that he'd be able to see him at the track, every day."

While acknowledging that it normally takes a while to make the transition from racehorse to stable pony, Ross believed Shaws Creek could handle the change because of his intelligence and unflappable disposition.

"Once I took the high-powered feed away from him and put him on a pony-type feed, he settled down even more," Ross said.

"He loves it - he loves to look around. He's the happiest little horse I've ever seen. He's going to be a big bonus for me."

Only If Split tries grass

Only If Split, an impressive winner of her seasonal bow here June 22, will be making her turf debut in Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Damsel.

"If you're going to try the turf for the first time, you might as well take a shot at the $150,000 in a sprint stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds," said Lorne Richards, who trains Only If Split for owner K.K. Sangara. "She's hasn't worked on turf, either. I've never worked a horse on turf. I don't think it's really necessary."

Only If Split was purchased privately from trainer Mark Casse last summer and won the 6 1/2-furlong Muskoka, a yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old fillies, in her first start for her new connections.

But, that Sept. 4 race turned out to be Only If Split's last of the season.

"She had chips taken out of both knees," Richards said. "It was fairly major."

Only If Split breezed for the first time this year on May 4 and had eight more works prior to her return in a first-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies over six furlongs. After breaking alertly there under jockey Jono Jones, Only If Split went on to a dominant 5 3/4-length score, which produced a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

"She ran a pretty good race coming off surgery and a 10-month layoff," Richards said.

New rider for Pugilistic

Pugilistic, another contender in the Ontario Damsel, breezed three furlongs in 37.60 seconds over the training turf course Friday morning. She will have jockey Corey Fraser aboard for the first time.

"I just blew her out a little bit to give Corey a chance to get acquainted with her," said Mac Benson, who trains Pugilistic.

Michelle Rainford, sidelined with a concussion, rode Pugilistic in her first two starts.

Sterwins impresses in breeze

Trainer Malcolm Pierce sent out several horses to work over the turf training course Friday, and Sterwins, who breezed five furlongs in a bullet 59 seconds, was the star of the show.

"He worked by himself, and did it very well," Pierce said. "I'm getting close to looking for a comeback race for him."

Sterwins, runner-up in last year's Queen's Plate when trained by Todd Pletcher, has not seen action since Dec. 7 and joined Pierce's string here last month.

Get Rich Quick, who is nominated to next Saturday's $150,000 Toronto Cup at 1 1/8 miles on turf, breezed five furlongs for Pierce in 1:02 under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.

"I'm trying to decide whether to run him in the Toronto Cup," said Pierce, who watched Get Rich Quick finish last of 12 as the lukewarm favorite in the Charlie Barley over one mile of turf here June 24.

"He surely threw a clunker at us last time. He broke poorly, tried to make a little bit of a run in the middle, but was never any threat at all."

The Carbon Unit eyes Northern Dancer

The Carbon Unit, who joined trainer Roger Attfield here recently, worked six furlongs on the turf training course Friday. He is slated to make his local bow in the Grade 2, $700,000 Northern Dancer over 1 1/2 miles of turf on July 22.

With Garry Cruise in the irons, The Carbon Unit went in company with the 3-year-old filly Moccasin Gap, and both were clocked in 1:14.20.

Attfield was pleased with the exercise, particularly in terms of getting to know The Carbon Unit.

"He was working very, very strong and really eased up the last part," Attfield said. "The jockey said he'd stopped riding him a little bit, but when the filly came to him, he started galloping out really strong."

Ontario to study horse racing industry

The Ontario government has formed a panel to examine the state of horse racing and create a long-term strategic plan for the industry, Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips announced Friday.

"The horse racing and breeding industry is the second largest industry, and a long-standing way of life, in rural Ontario," Phillips said in a news release.

"It's seen significant changes in the past decade, and this review will help identify ways to make sure the industry remains strong and viable well into the future."

Former Ontario Racing Commission chairman Stanley Sadinsky will chair the three-member panel, which will include Jane Stewart, a former member of provincial parliament, and William McDonnell, an industry veteran.

The panel will issue a report including its recommendations in the spring 2008.

Chaplaincy golf tournament set

The Racetrack Chaplaincy of Ontario will host its annual golf tournament, which will be followed by dinner and a silent auction, at nearby Glen Eagles on Monday, July 23.

Tickets for golf only are $75, while the dinner-auction package costs $150.

Former heavyweight boxer George Chuvalo will be the guest speaker at the dinner.

For tickets or additional information contact Shawn Kennedy at (905) 713-4783.