11/30/2004 1:00AM

Smartest Thing injured, euthanized


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Smartest Thing, a promising 2-year-old filly trained by Roger Attfield, was humanely destroyed after breaking down during a main-track workout here Tuesday morning.

Owned by Attfield in partnership with Bill Werner and Mickey and Phyllis Canino, Smartest Thing was a leading contender for Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Lassie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

"She was having a little breeze for the race and going along very nicely," said Attfield. "Then she snapped her right front leg."

Gerry Olguin, Smartest Thing's regular rider, went down hard when the filly foundered, and he suffered a broken collarbone; he is finished riding for the meet.

"Two weeks of racing is not the end of the world for a rider," said jockey agent Roger Poynter, who represents Olguin. "But he's really heartbroken about that filly. He says she's definitely the best horse he's ever ridden."

Attfield, who had been in Florida with his Payson Park string, returned home on Monday to oversee Smartest Thing's preparations.

"The track was really good this morning, and the forecast for the next few days was a little questionable, so I decided to work a few," said Attfield.

"If it had happened on a bad racetrack, you could blame yourself. When it happens like this, there's nothing anybody can do about it."

Smartest Thing, an Ontario-bred by Smart Strike out of the Alydeed mare Alycheer, had finished second in each of her first two outings, including the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She then won her maiden convincingly on Nov. 13 at Woodbine, also at the 1 1/16-mile distance.

"I thought she had a big future, that filly," said Attfield.

Olguin to ride in California this winter

Olguin plans to return to riding in northern California this winter and then return to Woodbine in time to prepare for the opening of the 2005 meeting.

Olguin, 31, moved his tack here from Hastings in 1999, and won 41 races with 398 mounts here this year, with a total of 129 in-the-money finishes and purse winnings of more than $2.1 million.

Olguin's biggest victory this year came with Ablo, an Attfield-trained colt who upset the $250,000 Coronation Futurity here. He also won Fort Erie's $125,000 Rainbow Connection with Bold Artic Ice.

Miss Grindstone reaches new heights

Miss Grindstone has earned a reputation as one of the hardest knockers on the racetrack over the last few years, and with just cause.

But the stakes have been raised, literally, since trainer Frank Passero claimed Miss Grindstone for $77,500 here Oct. 11.

On Sunday, in her second start for Passero and owner William Robbins, Miss Grindstone became a stakes winner at age 5 in the $164,250 Bessarabian Handicap, a Grade 3.

Passero, 71, returned to training this summer after taking more than a year off to help his wife and daughter get established in the antiques business.

But it didn't take long for Passero to regain his claiming touch, and he wasn't shy about going after Miss Grindstone despite the hefty cost.

"She'd won more than half her races," Passero said. "She was a flat-out runner, with a good pedigree. She'll make a tremendous broodmare; she had all kinds of residual value when we took her."

Miss Grindstone also came with her share of problems, however.

"She's a high-maintenance animal," said Passero, "but she thrives on what she does. She's got one of the biggest hearts of any filly I've ever had."

Passero will head to Gulfstream Park, where he has five stalls, at the conclusion of the Woodbine meeting

Meanwhile, he is uncertain about the immediate future for Miss Grindstone.

"It all depends on her health," he said. "She came out of the race well, but we'll take it day by day."

Miss Grindstone has won 14 of 26 starts, finished in the money 21 times, and earned $608,179. The longest losing streak in her career is two races.

El Prado Essence off to breeding shed again

The Bessarabian was the swan song for runner-up El Prado Essence, who is heading to the breeding shed. El Prado Essence, a 7-year-old owned by trainer Audre Cappuccitti in partnership with her husband, Gord Cappuccitti, will be bred to a yet-to-be-determined stallion and then probably will be put up for auction.

A similar scenario was considered last year, but El Prado Essence lost her foal this spring and was returned to the racetrack, failing to win in four starts but finishing second three times and earning $90,035 while competing with the best horses in her division.

El Prado Essence, a Kentucky-bred by El Prado out of the Quadratic mare Quadrahope, retires with 10 wins, including four stakes, in 34 starts. She also finished second 11 times and third four times, earning $890,281.

Fever costs March With Me his big start

March With Me, a promising 2-year-old gelding owned and trained by Audre Cappuccitti, was a leading candidate for last Saturday's Display Stakes, but became a late scratch.

Cappuccitti was being highly vigilant because of a rash of recent illnesses on her shed row, and March With Me turned up with a high temperature Saturday afternoon.

"Thank goodness we caught it," said Cappuccitti. "I could have done some real damage by running him."

Sovereign Awards ballots due Monday

The Jockey Club of Canada sent out the 2004 Sovereign Awards ballots on Tuesday, with a total of 79 voters on this year's list.

The eligible voters, 45 percent of whom are based in western Canada, have until 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday to return their ballots. On-line voting also is available for the first time, at www.jockeyclubcanada.com.

The votes will be tabulated by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the finalists in 15 divisions, all except Horse of the Year, will be announced on Dec. 10.

The Sovereign Awards gala will be held Dec. 17 at the Wyndham Bristol Place Hotel.