10/01/2006 11:00PM

Shillelagh Slew: All's well that ends well


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Shillelagh Slew's season began in disappointing fashion, as his path to the Queen's Plate was compromised by illness. He was able to finish no better than fifth behind Edenwold in that $1omillion showpiece here June 25.

But Shillelagh Slew, who is owned by David James and trained by Mike DePaulo, has been making up for lost time since then, and now finds himself in the driver's seat for divisional honors following his emphatic score in Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby for 3-year-olds here at Woodbine.

"He was an authoritative winner," said DePaulo. "He's just a powerful horse. He's been a beautiful horse to look at, and a great horse to train.

"He has a little something to him; a little charisma."

Shillelagh Slew undoubtedly is a horse who captured the public interest before and after the Queen's Plate.

Following a victory via disqualification in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, Shillelagh Slew completed his Canadian Triple Crown trek with a third-place finish here in the Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles of turf. Shillelagh Slew then journeyed to Edmonton's Northlands Park and was a runaway winner of the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby.

His victory in Sunday's Ontario Derby yielded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 91 and brought his earnings for the season to $731,680.

"It's unbelievable," said James. "It's beyond my wildest, wildest dreams. I just didn't think I could ever own a horse this good.

"I'm just a small owner - it sort of adds to the dreams, and hopes, of the people at my level. I'm just so grateful to Mike, Josie, and Dino."

Mike, of course, is DePaulo, while Josie is Mike's wife and assistant, and Dino is Dino Luciani, Shillelagh Slew's regular rider.

And while his connections will not be resting on their laurels, Shillelagh Slew probably has fought his last battle this season

"He's had a tough campaign," said DePaulo, who was sending out his sixth stakes winner of the season. "I doubt we're going to run him again this year."

Coy Coyote, A.P. Reality 1-2 for Baker

Coy Coyote, who won Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Mazarine for 2-year-old fillies, gave trainer Reade Baker his meet-leading 10th stakes win this season, equaling the number he racked up last year in his Sovereign Award-winning campaign.

And, for good measure, Baker sent out A.P. Reality to a second-place finish in the Mazarine after an eventful journey.

A.P. Reality, under regular rider Jim McAleney, had rallied strongly and seemed headed for victory in the Mazarine when she began wandering and balking in deep stretch.

"Obviously, we need to make some adjustments," said Baker. "I didn't realize she'd be as uncooperative as she was when she makes the lead."

Coy Coyote, meanwhile, kept about her business under jockey Corey Fraser and rolled past her stablemate.

A.P. Reality, bred in Kentucky by her owner, Centaur Farm, will be pointed for the $125,000 Glorious Song, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies here Nov. 19. "She may be better going shorter," said Baker.

Coy Coyote, owned by Dick Bonnycastle's Harlequin Ranches, will be exploring other opportunities.

"I don't want to bring her back going seven furlongs," said Baker. "If she runs again this year, it will be in New York or Kentucky."

Coy Coyote's win was the sixth stakes win this year for Fraser, three of them coming for Baker and three for trainer Bob Tiller.

In all, Fraser won with 5 of his 8 mounts over the weekend, bringing his year's win total to 55, good for sixth place in the standings.

Baker, 4 for 6 over the weekend, stands atop the trainer standings with 57 wins, seven more than second-place Mark Casse.

Lerman gets first win as a trainer

Barry Lerman, who was Baker's assistant until going out on his own this year, sent out his first winner - Grizzly Lady, who won her maiden when claimed for $25,000 here in Sunday's fifth race.

Grizzly Lady is owned by Bonnycastle, whose Miss Stuck Up, trained by Baker, will run in Wednesday's $125,000 Victorian Queen for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

Bonnycastle wins at Newmarket, too

Bonnycastle had another reason to celebrate on Saturday, as the co-owner and breeder of Spinning Queen, winner of the Group 1 Sun Chariot over one mile at Newmarket.

Spinning Queen, a 3-year-old filly trained by Barry Hills, is a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

The Last Drop, who also has been racing for Bonnycastle and partners in England, finished second in the Grade 1 St. Leger at York last month and is a possibility for the Canadian International here Oct. 22.

Mike Fox works for Cup and Saucer

Mike Fox, a homebred son of Giant's Causeway who is trained by Baker for D. Morgan Firestone, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.80 under McAleney at Woodbine on Saturday morning.

"He was brilliant," said Baker, who clocked Mike Fox in 24 seconds for his final quarter-mile.

Mike Fox, winner of an off-the-turf mile and 70-yard maiden special in his only start here, on Sept. 3, is pointing for the Oct. 15 Cup and Saucer - a $250,000, 1 1/16-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

* Backgrammon, also owned by Firestone and trained by Baker, is nominated to the Cup and Saucer but is slated to make his next appearance in the $125,000 Bull Page, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired colts and geldings here Oct. 14.