11/23/2001 12:00AM

Speedy Olympian goes for the gold in Kennedy Road


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Olympian began his 2001 campaign on a high note, breaking the five-furlong track record at Woodbine when he romped to victory in 56.07 seconds in just the second race of the meeting March 31.

"At that point, I thought he was going to have a great year," said trainer John Cardella, who owns Olympian in partnership with John Sullivan's Rexdale Stable.

Eight days after his opening-day tally, Olympian wheeled back in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes and finished a good third behind Wake at Noon and Exciting Story, who both are Sovereign Award candidates in the outstanding sprinter category.

And while the fates have not been on Olympian's side in subsequent months, Cardella is hoping Olympian can reignite the flame in the six-furlong Kennedy Road Stakes here next Saturday, which is the penultimate day of this lengthy stand.

"I just have to hope he's in good order by the time he gets there," said Cardella, who sent out Olympian Friday for a four-furlong work, which could not be timed due to dense fog. "He had problems all summer with both front feet."

Olympian has had his moments, finishing second to Sovereign contender Mr. Epperson in both a classified allowance and the Grade 3 Highlander Handicap here Sept. 30.

But in his only subsequent start here Oct. 13, Olympian's foot problems again flared up and he was fourth as the even-money choice in allowance company.

"When he didn't leave good, I knew there was something bothering him," said Cardella, who has engaged the services of Todd Kabel for the $100,000 Kennedy Road.

Olympian, who was claimed for $40,000 from his debut here in October 1999, has gone on to become a stakes winner of $301,630. Such success is not new to Cardella, whose best claim was Bompago. He claimed Bompago for $40,000 as a 2-year-old and then won the Queen's Plate with him here in 1983.

Another claim to fame?

Cardella is hoping lightning can strike again when he saddles Lazer Speed here for the closing-day Kingarvie, a $125,000, 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

Cardella claimed Lazer Speed, a 2-year-old colt by Tejabo, for $32,000 here Aug. 19.

"He's Ontario-sired, and he'd shown some run," said Cardella. "He's a good-looking big horse, the kind of horse you like to buy as a baby, who has potential."

Lazer Speed finished third in his first two starts for Cardella and partner John Folino, then won his maiden for $32,000 over 1 1/16 miles and won next out for the same price at seven furlongs under regular rider Steve Bahen.

While the first win did not surprise Cardella, he was pleasantly surprised by the encore.

"He's a very tough horse to train; he doesn't like working," said Cardella. "I ran him in that last sprint to get something into him, before I ran him in the stakes.

"I was kind of hoping he'd just run good. Stevie Bahen says it's the best he's been to handle; he usually lugs in."

While the Kingarvie will be a class call for Lazer Speed, Cardella has cause for optimism.

"He has had a couple of routes already," said the trainer. "Fitness-wise, I'm in good order."

Cardella also reports that Classical Romance, the 3-year-old filly he trains for California Stable, has been retired due to physical problems and will be marketed as a broodmare prospect.

Classical Romance, an Alberta-bred but Ontario-sired daughter of Regal Classic and the Halo mare Halo's Romance, was claimed for $62,500 here in August 2000 and went on to win the $107,000 South Ocean Stakes that year.

While her only win from 12 starts this year came via a disqualification, Classical Romance finished third in the Lady Angela Stakes and earned $86,516 to bring her career bankroll to $196,227.

Pair of pick sixes

Woodbine will offer a $2 pick six, on the fifth through 10th races, on each of the last two cards here next weekend. There will be a mandatory payout each day.

Also, all pick six tickets will be eligible for a draw for a 53-inch television, with the winner to be selected at random by ticket serial number.

There will be an early post time for the last two programs, with the prospective 12-race cards both beginning at 12:35 p.m.

A Fleets Dancer eyes repeat

A Fleets Dancer has been assigned high weight of 124 pounds for the Valedictory Handicap and will likely be an odds-on choice for the closing-day co-feature.

A 6-year-old horse owned by Cam Allard and trained by Roger Attfield, A Fleets Dancer was an easy winner of the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory last year.

The Valedictory is slated to go as the seventh race and will be shown live as part of "Woodbine Post Time on Sportsnet," which will air from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Display boards on the way

Woodbine is pricing bids for two large infield display boards, one of which will display a live video feed and the other wagering data.

Steve Mitchell, vice president, wagering operations for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, said the video board will be significantly larger than the one used on a trial basis during Queen's Plate week this year.

"It's clearly something that was very popular with our customers," said Mitchell, adding that the target date for unveiling the new boards is the first Saturday in May.

* The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will hold its final meeting of the season here Wednesday night. Scheduled head table guests for the meeting, which will begin at 8 p.m. in the second-floor International Room, include Woodbine's director of horsemen's relations Tom Cosgrove and Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association president Larry Regan.