04/12/2006 11:00PM

Shippers challenge champ in Cartier


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Two-time Sovereign Award winner Judiths Wild Rush heads a good field of eight in Saturday's $125,000 Jacques Cartier, the first stakes of the 2006 Woodbine meeting.

Judiths Wild Rush, the 2003 champion 2-year-old and reigning champion sprinter, was beaten a nose after mounting a wide bid in the 2005 Jacques Cartier. He went on to capture the Grade 3 Vigil and Bold Venture Stakes before finishing a flat third in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth.

Trainer Reade Baker said he decided to give Judiths Wild Rush the second half of 2005 off because there were no local races for him, other than the Kennedy Road Stakes.

"He had been going for a year and a half, and I thought it was time to give him a break," Baker said.

Judiths Wild Rush finished third and fourth in two graded stakes over the winter at Gulfstream. He was a nonthreatening third when he shortened up to five furlongs in the allowance prep for the six-furlong Jacques Cartier.

Baker said he was content with Judiths Wild Rush's prep effort.

"He ran just like a horse would who was coming off those longer races," Baker said. "He had bigger fish to fry, and I think we achieved what we wanted to do. I think he'll show more speed and run better this time."

The other main contenders are New York shippers High Blitz and Super Fuse, along with Are You Serious, who has not started since springing an upset in the Dec. 10 Kennedy Road.

High Blitz, trained by Justin Nixon for Stronach Stable, could manage only fourth as the favorite in the Kennedy Road.

High Blitz subsequently embarked on a two-race winter campaign at Aqueduct, where he was second in a $100,000 optional claimer and fourth in the Grade 3 Toboggan Handicap. The only two Toboggan contestants to have run back both won - Bishop Court Hill took the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, and Banjo Picker prevailed in an allowance at Philadelphia Park.

Super Fuse, trained by Chris Englehart, is winless in his last 20 starts, including a troubled ninth-place finish here in the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap on turf in October.

It will likely require a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure to win the Jacques Cartier, and Super Fuse has earned one in two of his last four outings. He was a close third in the Fall Highweight Handicap, and he finished just a half-length behind High Blitz in fourth in the $100,000 optional claimer.