04/25/2007 11:00PM

Stradivinsky passes on run in Vigil


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stradivinsky was looming as the horse to beat in Saturday's seven-furlong Vigil after romping by 7 3/4 lengths and earning a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the April 14 Jacques Cartier here, his first start in more than five months.

But when push came to shove, trainer Malcolm Pierce elected to keep Stradivinsky in the barn rather than bring him back to the races on two weeks' notice.

Pierce initially had been opposed to running Stradivinsky back so quickly, and then was leaning toward the Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil after taking a closer look at the Woodbine stakes schedule. But, Pierce said, "I thought better of it."

"He's got to bounce off that effort that he ran," Pierce said. "It would have been just the wrong thing to do, to come back in two weeks. It's too long a season to be doing that. He's too nice a horse."

Pierce, commenting on the Woodbine stakes schedule, pointed out that running a horse in the prep for the Jacques Cartier, the Jacques Cartier itself, and the Vigil would constitute three starts in the span of four weeks.

"I'm going to talk to somebody about the stakes scheduling; maybe they can change it next year," Pierce said. "Just because they used to do it that way in 1967 doesn't mean you have to do it that way in 2007."

The next main-track opportunity for the older horses at Woodbine is the Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race on May 21.

But, with Pierce preferring to keep Stradivinsky racing around one turn, his next suitable stakes spot here becomes the Grade 3, $250,000 Highlander, a six-furlong turf race on June 24.

True Metropolitan in Vancouver

True Metropolitan, Canada's champion older horse last year, was nominated to the Vigil but will not be making the trip from his Vancouver base.

"He will be coming, just not for this race," said Terry Jordan, who trains True Metropolitan. "I was having a problem getting stalls there. I wanted to bring some horses, and leave them there."

Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary, said Jordan missed the deadline for stall applications in January and had only recently requested stall space.

The crunch recently eased slightly, however, and Lym has informed True Metropolitan's owner, Bob Cheema, that he has five stalls available.

If Jordan follows through, True Metropolitan could be here in plenty of time for the Eclipse on May 21.

True Metropolitan is slated to make his seasonal bow in the $45,000 George Royal, a 6 1/2-furlong race at Hastings on May 5.

Bear Character enters Vigil

The field of six for the Vigil includes one surprise entrant in Bear Character.

Owned by the Bear Stable of Danny Dion and trained by Reade Baker, Bear Character was supplemented to the race at a cost of $3,000, including the $1,500 entry fee.

Bear Character, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, began his career in Alberta and won the seven-furlong Swynford in his local debut here in September 2005 when trained by Dale Greenwood.

After finishing second in Keeneland's Grade 2 Lexington and third in Woodbine's Grade 3 Marine for Baker last spring, Bear Character returned to Greenwood in Alberta and wound up his 3-year-old campaign with an unsuccessful trip to Hastings for the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby.

The Sept. 24 B.C. Derby stands as the last start for Bear Character, who checked in from Keeneland on Tuesday morning.

"Danny wanted him to go seven furlongs," Baker said. "There wasn't anything at Keeneland for him, and I didn't know if a four-other-than would go here.

"At least he's got a place to start now. He's been in training since January."

Although Bear Character has worked briskly at Keeneland, Baker noted that fast workout times have been commonplace there this spring.

"I don't know what to make of the horse," Baker said. "The workouts at Keeneland haven't been a very true bill for trainers and handicappers."

Wednesday evening racing

Entries will be taken Sunday for the first Wednesday evening card this year, with first post set for 6:45 p.m.

Lym said eight races would be the norm for the Wednesday cards.

Beginning this Wednesday and continuing through Wednesday, Oct. 31, "Race Night on The Score" will be featuring Woodbine live from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

This Wednesday's card also marks the first meeting of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the third-floor Champions area. New members are welcome.