06/04/2007 11:00PM

Shippers add depth to Oaks


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Woodbine Oaks generally has been a provincial affair, with the bulk of the field comprised of fillies born and raced in Ontario.

There has been the odd exception as Ready and Alluring, second in 2005; Quick Blue, third in 2001; and Gal in a Ruckus, the 1995 winner, all were making their first Woodbine appearances in the Oaks.

This year’s running of the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies boasts no fewer than four candidates who would be making their Woodbine debuts.

Belleplaine and Christies Treasure are trained by Todd Pletcher, who has been successful here in major stakes such as the Queen’s Plate and E.P. Taylor Stakes but has not had an Oaks starter.

Belleplaine is based at Belmont while Christies Treasure is part of Pletcher’s division at Arlington.

The other shippers are Street Sounds and Suva. Street Sounds is training in Maryland and will be the first Woodbine starter for trainer Michael Matz. Suva has made the longest journey, as she checked in from British Columbia late last month for trainer Steve Henson, a first-time visitor to Woodbine.

The influx of shippers may turn out to be an anomaly but will be a shot in the arm for the Oaks, which is expected to attract 10 entrants at the post-position draw Thursday.

Street Sounds, a $400,000 Keeneland yearling purchase, already has been effective at a variety of locales. Most of her success has come on turf, as Street Sounds won her maiden at Delaware last October, the Selima at Laurel in November, and the Hilltop at Pimlico in her last start on May 12. Street Sounds also sports winning form on Polytrack, as she won the Grade 2 Beaumont over seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 12.

Belleplaine is coming off back-to-back romps in Maryland. She won her maiden by 14 1/2 lengths over 1 1/16 miles at Laurel on April 11 and a first-level allowance by 11 1/4 lengths at Pimlico on May 3. Belleplaine will be one of two homebreds in the Woodbine Oaks for owner Eugene Melnyk, who also has Sealy Hill in raining here with Mark Casse.

Christies Treasure, a $160,000 2-year-old purchase in Kentucky, has made all five of her career starts on turf, winning her maiden over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs last November and a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles in her last start at Keeneland on April 11.

Suva will have to be supplemented Thursday at a cost of $12,500, which includes the $5,000 entry fee. She will be the first British Columbia-based filly to contest the Oaks since Delta Colleen, who finished fourth in the 1988 renewal. Owned by Jeffrey Sengara, who has some horses stabled with trainer Scott Fairlie at Woodbine, Suva is considered to be the best of her division at Hastings in Vancouver but will be an outsider here.

The strong local contingent is headed by Sealy Hill, an 8 1/4-length winner of the Glorious Song over seven furlongs here last fall and a head winner of the Grade 3 Bourbonette over Turfway Park’s Polytrack on March 24.

Sealy Hill is coming off a distant 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks at 40-1. She reportedly did not handle the sloppy going but has since worked very well here.

Saskawea, trained by Steve Attard, will attract plenty of local support in the Oaks. Attard, who sent Sweet Breanna to finish second to the Casse-trained Kimchi in last year’s running, has never won a race of the magnitude of the Oaks but Saskawea could provide his breakthrough.

Saskawea, winner of the seven-furlong Fury when making her seasonal bow and her first start in six months, followed up with a second-place finish behind the Kentucky-bred Bear Now in the 1 1/16-mile Selene in an effort which should set her up nicely for her biggest race to date.

Although it’s difficult for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad to come into a big race at Woodbine under the radar, Quiet Jungle could prove to be the exception as she makes just her fourth start in the Oaks.

Quiet Jungle was hard-pressed to prevail in her local debut, which came in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles here May 6, but raced greenly and is eligible for significant improvement. Although she was unraced at 2, Quiet Jungle began her campaign at the Fair Grounds this March 15 with the Woodbine Oaks in mind and turned in strong efforts there and at Keeneland prior to returning home for her allowance victory.

Sam-Son and Frostad already have fielded three Oaks winners in the 21st century.