06/07/2006 11:00PM

Stormkick a Plate player after romping win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks will be in the spotlight here Sunday, and that means the $1 million Queen's Plate is just two weeks away.

And the June 25 Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, may have gained a new player on Wednesday night when Stormkick was an impressive winner of a "B" maiden race for trainer Mike Doyle and the Hendrie Stable.

"He's a very serious possibility for the Plate," said Doyle.

Stormkick finished second to Malakoff in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special here April 30. Malakoff, owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Brian Lynch, came back to win the Grade 3 Marine at the same distance in very impressive fashion and is a leading Queen's Plate contender.

Doyle would have preferred to run Stormkick in an "A" maiden special here last Saturday but was forced to change that plan.

"He got the virus, and I only got to breeze him once," said Doyle. "I took a shot and ran him Wednesday, because if he didn't run there he wouldn't be able to run in the Plate anyway."

Stormkick responded with an 8 1/2-length victory, which earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 78.

Field of four for Victoria Park

The $125,000 Victoria Park, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that is the main supporting feature here Sunday, could have served as a prep for the Queen's Plate, but it attracted a field of just four American-breds, including the invader Harborage.

Owned by Earle Mack and trained at Belmont by Gary Contessa, Harborage is coming out of a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at 1 1/8 miles on May 20.

The Peter Pan was won by Sunriver, who is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line for Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

In his start prior to the Peter Pan, Harborage had finished second to Throng in a 1 1/8-mile first-level optional claimer. Throng made his next start here in the Grade 3 Marine on May 20, finishing a well-beaten fourth in the field of five.

Contessa, who seeks his first win at Woodbine, has given the return call on Harborage to Mike Luzzi, who won a division of the Natalma here in 1997 with Joustabout.

Rounding out the Victoria Park field will be Ok Nothanksforaskn, who finished second to the Queen's Plate-bound Malakoff in the Marine; Runaway Hit, winner of a first-level allowance race here last time out; and Italiano, who won his maiden while in for a $60,000 claiming price at seven furlongs last Saturday.

Italiano, trained and co-owned by Laurie Silvera, was supplemented to the Victoria Park at a cost of $2,500, which included the regular $1,250 entry fee.

Arravale returns in Alywow

The Alywow, an overnight stakes, required a field of five to be carded here Sunday, and it certainly had no trouble meeting that target as it attracted 14 contestants.

The filly to beat in the Alywow could prove to be Arravale, a Kentucky-bred who will be making her first start of the season.

"She's been working quite well," said Mac Benson, who trains Arravale for owner Bob Costigan. "I wish I had found something for her sooner, but there wasn't anything for her unless I went out of town."

Arravale won her first two career starts here last summer on the turf, including the Grade 3 Natalma at one mile, before concluding her campaign with a ninth-place finish in the Grade 3 Mazarine at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

"She's been working quite well," said Benson. "I wish I had found something for her sooner, but there wasn't anything for her unless I went out of town."

Celebration of Barbados heritage

Saturday will be Barbados Day here at Woodbine, featuring Bajan food, entertainment, and special events.

A series of autograph sessions, featuring top local jockeys, cricket legend Desmond Haynes, and National Hockey League goaltender Kevin Weekes, will begin at noon on the second floor of the grandstand.

The afternoon's eighth race, dubbed the "Incitatus Cup," will be the Canada-Barbados jockey challenge.

Incitatus, bred in Barbados, won the 1997 Gold Cup in his homeland and captured the Grade 2 Connaught Cup and Grade 2 King Edward Breeders' Cup after moving to Woodbine.

Saturday's $125,000 Steady Growth Stakes is being sponsored for the first time by the Barbados Department of Tourism.

Bosskiri hangs on to win Ballade

Bosskiri ($10.70) held off the 8-5 favorite, Financingavailable, to capture the $126,200 Ballade Stakes for Ontario-sired females here Wednesday night.

Over a track favoring inside speed, Bosskiri dueled up front in the two-path with Runaway Sunshine through fractions of 22:16 and 44.68 seconds in the six-furlong race.

Financingavailable stalked on the outside and took dead aim at the leaders in the stretch, but Bosskiri held her ground and won by a head.

Runaway Sunshine was another half-length back in third, and Coastal Fortress finished fourth in the eight-horse field after experiencing traffic problems.

Jono Jones rode Bosskiri for trainer Reade Baker.

"Reade just told me to leave her alone when I came out of the gate," said Jones. "When [Financingavailable] came to her, she dug in - she was meaning that she was going to win today."

Bosskiri covered the distance in 1:09.89, earning $75,000 for the partnership of Harlequin Ranches, Park Stud, and Morgan Firestone.

* Jim Mazur and Jim Bannon will hold a one-hour handicapping seminar beginning Saturday at noon on the second floor east of the food court here. Topics of discussion will include Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink