07/31/2009 11:00PM

Smith holding two aces for Oaks


Lady Countdown, perfect in three starts at Assiniboia Downs, and Morsel, coming off a second-place finish behind Manitoba Derby contender Hilton's Cherokee, give trainer Charles Smith a strong hand for Monday's $30,000 Assiniboia Oaks.

The Assiniboia Oaks, a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, and the six-furlong Graduation, a $30,000 race for 2-year-olds, are the supporting features on the nine-race holiday card which begins at 1:15 p.m.

Lady Countdown, also owned by Smith, shipped in to win the 5 1/2- furlong Debutante last year and has taken the six-furlong Chantilly and a 7 1/2-furlong allowance race in two visits to Manitoba this season.

In her last start, Lady Countdown finished second in the $50,000 Northbound Pride over one mile of turf at Canterbury Park.

Alan Cuthbertson, who rode Lady Countdown to her most recent local score, regains the mount.

Morsel ran second to Lady Countdown in that local allowance race and came back to run very well in the 1 1/16-mile Harry Jeffrey, beaten 1 3/4 lengths in the major local prep for the Manitoba Derby.

Rohan Singh, who was aboard Morsel for her Manitoba bow, returns for the Assiniboia Oaks and could upstage her uncoupled stablemate.

Thelifeoftheparty, beaten a half-length by Lady Countdown in the Northbound Pride; Himynameissarah, a winner under allowance terms at Canterbury last time out; and Mindy Queen, who is 3 for 4 in Illinois this year, complete a formidable cast of ship-ins.

Golden Stripe, coming off a 5 3/4- length romp in the restricted R.C. Anderson, and Inspeightofsuccess, second to Manitoba Derby contestant Muffin's Star in a one-mile allowance race last time, round out the field.

One to Ponder, a maiden who showed good speed in his last two starts for trainer Red Johnson at Woodbine, has shipped west to Chad Torevell and figures to take some catching in the Graduation.

Singh picks up the mount on One to Ponder, who will race with Lasix for the first time.

Local winners Honorable Lady, No Maddy, and Mankato Strike all come into the Graduation with decent credentials.

Honorable Lady followed up her first-out win with a second-place finish in the 5 1/2-furlong Debutante, in which No Maddy ended an even fifth.

Cuthbertson gets the call on Honorable Lady while Carols Marquez takes over aboard No Maddy.

Mankato Strike, another Smith-trained Minnesota invader, won her maiden at Assiniboia on July 11 over five furlongs.

Mark Anderson retains the mount on Mankato Strike.