06/26/2007 11:00PM

Sterwins, Saoirse Cat join Pierce barn


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A couple of interesting new faces have popped up in trainer Malcolm Pierce's barn at Woodbine and could make their presence felt on the local scene.

Sterwins, the runner-up in last year's Queen's Plate, and Saoirse Cat, who is a stakes-placed winner of four races, both shipped in from Florida this month.

Previously trained by Todd Pletcher, Sterwins won his first two allowance conditions but has not raced since finishing third in a restricted stakes at Aqueduct in December.

Sterwins had been training at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, Fla., and breezed five furlongs in 1:00 here on June 21 in his first workout over Woodbine's Polytrack surface.

"He had a couple of five-eighths [works] under his belt when he came to me," said Pierce. "He breezed very well here, going on his own. I'll give him a couple more works to see how fit he is. Hopefully, he'll be a handy horse to have here in the fall."

The Kentucky-bred Saoirse Cat is by Storm Cat out of Saoirse, a talented sprinter who was Canada's champion older filly or mare in 2000.

Racing for trainer Bill Mott, Saoirse Cat won her maiden over 5o1/2 furlongs at Belmont in July 2005 but has competed exclusively in turf sprints since last June. Her latest effort was a fifth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on May 5.

"I'm just getting to know her," said Pierce. "I'll try and stretch her out a little bit.

"She's worked very well on Polytrack."

Saoirse Cat has breezed three times for Pierce, her latest a five-furlong drill in 1:01.40 on the main track on Saturday.

As of Wednesday, Pierce planned to enter Saoirse Cat in Sunday's $100,000 Sweet Briar Too, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares on Sunday. The Sweet Briar Too is an overnight stakes, so at least five must enter in order for the race to be carded.

Hide and Chic has minor setback

Hide and Chic, a Sovereign Award finalist in the older filly and mare division last year, missed some time recently due to a minor injury, according to Pierce.

"It was nothing serious," he said. "She's back in training, but she hasn't breezed now in three weeks."

Hide and Chic has started twice this season, finishing second in the six-furlong Whimsical on April 15 and fourth in the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie on May 13.

Pierce was pointing Hide and Chic to the Sweet Briar Too, but now must wait for another spot.

"That would have been a great target for her," he said.

Nine enter Achievement

Gantu and Hosta Rica, the one-two finishers in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs here May 21, both will be making their stakes debuts in Saturday's $125,000 Achievement.

The Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds, will go with a field of nine, including the supplementary entrants Backgammon, Red Raffles, and Quidly Quest.

Gantu, owned and bred by Bob Harvey and trained by Sid Attard, was a 2 1/2-length winner last time, getting his second win from as many starts this season. In his season debut, Gantu won a 5 1/2-furlong Ontario-sired maiden special by 5 1/2 lengths.

Gantu finish fourth in each of his two outings last fall.

"We operated on his throat last year after his last start," said Attard.

Emma-Jayne Wilson has ridden Gantu in each of his four starts and will be back in the irons for the Achievement.

Hosta Rica, owned and bred by Susan Foreman and trained by Steve Attard, won his maiden over five furlongs in his season bow and then finished third in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs heading into that last start.

"This is the last Ontario-foaled six-furlong stakes for him this season, so we thought we'd give him a chance," said Attard. "He's a nice, honest horse and he's training really well."

Eurico Rosa da Silva will ride Hosta Rica for the first time.

Off to Monmouth

Red Birkin, trained by Roger Attfield, and Lottacosta, trained by John Ross, were scheduled to be vanned early Thursday morning for races at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

Red Birkin a Florida-bred who races for her breeder, Haras Santa Maria de Araras, is heading for the Grade 3, $150,000 Boiling Springs, a 1o1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Lottacosta, a Kentucky-bred owned by the Jam Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds, is in the $60,000 Dearly Precious, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

Red Birkin worked four furlongs in 47.60 here Wednesday morning while Lottacosta breezed four furlongs in 48.40 on Sunday.

Blinkers on Boldly Seductive

Boldly Seductive, another 3-year-old filly from the Attfield outfit, breezed four furlongs Wednesday, going from the gate in 49.20.

Attfield said Boldly Seductive breezed with blinkers and will race with the equipment for the first time in the $150,000 Ontario Damsel, a 6o1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies here July 8.

After school center opens

Woodbine Entertainment Group has joined in a community partnership to open an after-school center, called the Woodbine Homework Club, at the nearby Maurice Coulter Housing Co-operative. The center opened Monday.

The project is a partnership among Woodbine, Toronto police, Microsoft, Ontario Property Management Group, and other community partners. It is meant to provide a place and supplies for children to study and do their homework.

"We are excited and proud to have worked together with Toronto Police Service 23 Division to create the Woodbine Homework Club," Nick Eaves, president of Woodbine Entertainment Group, said in a press release. "This program provides a safe after-school environment for children who need assistance with their homework."