04/25/2007 11:00PM

Shillelagh Slew starting '07 in Vigil


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Shillelagh Slew, Canada's reigning champion 3-year-old, will make his seasonal debut in a quality field Saturday at Woodbine in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil Stakes.

Shillelagh Slew was an impressive winner over the Vigil distance, seven furlongs, in his 2006 season opener. He subsequently caught a virus and missed his final prep for the Queen's Plate, in which he finished a flat fifth.

Shillelagh Slew won the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, by disqualification. After ending up third in the Breeders' Stakes on turf, he captured the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby.

Shillelagh Slew spent the winter in Florida with trainer Mike DePaulo.

"He started training at Palm Meadows Jan. 1," said DePaulo. "He had a good winter down there. He's had a pile of breezes, and has been working awesome. He's certainly ready to go seven-eighths."

Although DePaulo termed the Vigil "our prep" for the May 21 Eclipse Stakes, he said the outfit was still "looking to win."

Stradivinsky, a runaway winner two weeks ago in the Jacques Cartier Stakes, looked to be the one to knock off in the Vigil. His connections decided to bypass the Vigil, however, because of its immediacy, and the role of pacemaker will likely go to Just Rushing.

Just Rushing, a $40,000 claim by trainer Sid Attard in the fall of 2005, won seven consecutive races here last year over three different surfaces - the old main track, the inner dirt track, and the Polytrack. Two of those scores came in stakes, the Mt. Sassafras and the Labeeb.

Just Rushing got the winter off and began training on a farm before he shipped back into Woodbine.

"He's had quite a few works," said Attard. "I think he should be tight enough. I don't think he's going to come up short. He doesn't like to train too hard, and he likes to run fresh."

Last year's champion sprinter, Judiths Wild Rush, who won the last two runnings of the Vigil, will making his first start for a new trainer, Jerry Seymour. Judiths Wild Rush closed belatedly under Patrick Husbands to end up second in the Jacques Cartier, which came on the heels of a second-place finish in a mile and 70-yard optional claimer at Aqueduct.

"I couldn't get my horse on the bridle at all," said Husbands after the Jacques Cartier. "I had to ride him the whole way. The mile and 70-yard race took all his speed away. He should be tough next time around."