09/26/2008 12:00AM

Sligovitz fit now for derby try


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sligovitz heads what isn't the strongest of derby fields Sunday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Ontario Derby, and he will be looking for first stakes win in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds.

Sligovitz was always well-regarded by trainer Brian Lynch, but he came around too slowly to be ready for this year's Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes. After winning his second race in a row in a first-level allowance July 13, he ran in the final Triple Crown race, the $502,000 Breeders' Stakes on turf.

In the 1 1/2-mile Breeders', Sligovitz closed from fifth to take dead aim at front-runner Marlang at the top of the stretch. He veered out sharply in midstretch, however, and lost several lengths before re-rallying for second. Marlang returned to win the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

"He ducked out from the stick, I guess," said Lynch. "He loves to run up on the inside of horses, and he got to the outside in the Breeders'. It was the first time he'd done anything like that."

Sligovitz easily beat Pellegrino three weeks ago, in a second-level allowance-optional claimer on the Polytrack.

"What I liked about the race is that he showed that he's got a nice turn of foot," said Lynch. "Pellegrino is an old class horse, and he ran by him pretty easily. He's lovely to ride because you can rate him off the pace, and he'll kick in when you need him."

Arlington-based Secret Getaway has made a name at Woodbine this year, winning the Toronto Cup Stakes on turf and the Victoria Park Stakes on the Polytrack. Both races were at 1 1/8 miles, and he earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure on each occasion. "Both races were big efforts," said trainer Mike Stidham. "He seems to run well up there, and we're going back to try and get some more."

Secret Getaway finished far back last time out at Arlington in the Grade 1 Secretariat, a race dominated by the European raider Winchester. Secret Getaway appeared to have had an excuse.

"The turf was a little bit on the soft side, and I don't think he really liked it that much," said Stidham. "It was a tough, ambitious spot, and he didn't run his race."

Sand Cove beat Ontario-sired foes at a mile on turf in the Aug. 31 Vice Regent Stakes.