07/09/2008 12:00AM

Tell It as It Is an emerging talent

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Tell It as It Is was unlikely to be at the top of anyone's list when it came to assessing the major filly/mare turf players here this season.

But after upsetting the $104,000 Tattling Stakes here June 18, powering to a 3 1/4-length victory under jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson over 1 1/16 miles of yielding going, Tell It as It Is looms as a force to be reckoned with not just in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly, but perhaps farther down the road

"She didn't surprise me," said Jim Smith, who trains Tell It as It Is for the Cinnamont Stable of Richard Lister, looking back at her Tattling victory. "I was pretty confident."

Tell It as It Is, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, had run three solid races on the turf course here last summer, including wins in her first two allowance conditions, before winding up her campaign with a third-place finish in the Maple Leaf over 1 1/4 miles on the main track.

Despite her Maple Leaf performance, Smith was looking at a major turf stakes campaign for Tell It as It Is when he returned her to Woodbine in late April after spending the winter in Florida.

"I don't think she really cares too much for the Polytrack," said Smith.

The first turf goal for Tell It as It Is was the Grade 2 Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares here May 31.

But, with the turf course not yet open for the season, the allowance prep for the Nassau was run over 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack on May 9, and Smith took a pass.

That meant Tell It as It Is would be make her first start in more than sixth months in the Nassau, but Smith wasn't about to run up the white flag.

"I thought she could run good in there," said Smith, who watched Tell It as It Is make a strong middle move before tiring to finish last in the field of 10. "She put in a run from the half-mile pole to the eighth pole. I thought she was pretty fit, but she probably needed the race."

Smith also felt that the fact that jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson was not available for the Nassau had compromised the chances of Tell It as It Is.

"She missed Emma," said Smith.

Wilson, who now has been aboard for each of the four scores by Tell It as It Is, retains the mount for the Dance Smartly.

Attfield has split squad

Two divisions of a $62,500, seond-level optional claimer for fillies and mares will be featured at Woodbine on Friday.

The one-mile turf races offer purses of $80,900, and trainer Roger Attfield has interesting candidates for each race in Russian Rosie and Red Birkin.

Russian Rosie, a 4-year-old, finished fifth as the third choice in the Tattling and obviously will appreciate Friday's less-demanding company.

Bred in Ireland, Russian Rosie finished fifth in her North American debut, last fall's Maple Leaf, and won a first-level allowance over one mile on grass at Keeneland this spring before finishing second under second-level allowance terms in her first start of the meet going a mile on turf here May 19.

Russian Rosie, who will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Pizarro, will have six opponents.

"I would think this is a good spot," said Attfield. "I just wanted to take a step backwards and take the conditioned race there. I'm very happy with her."

Red Birkin, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, will be making her first start in almost seven months.

After being disqualified and placed third following her first-place finish in the Boiling Springs, a a Grade 3 race over 1 1/16 mile on turf at Monmouth Park last June, Red Birkin was ineffectual in three subsequent starts.

"She was a bad bleeder," said Attfield. "We gave her a lot of time off.

"You always worry about the weather, and the bad air, at this time of year. But, she's in great shape."

Local community to be celebrated

Woodbine will host its first Community Day on Saturday.

The one-day event will put the spotlight on Woodbine's industry and community partners, who will have interactive displays and demonstrations to which the public is welcome.

The Toronto Fire Department will have fire truck demonstrations, and riding demonstrations will be performed in the walking ring by members of the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society and Community Association for Riding for the Disabled.

Blacksmith Mike Dunslow will demonstrate how a horse is shod, Dr. Brian Van Arem will have a veterinary demonstration, and starter Drew Brown will show how the starting gate works. Backstretch tours also will be available.

For children, there will be musicians, free pony rides, face painting, and other activities in Woodbine's Family Fun area, located just west of the walking ring.

O'Brien keeping apprentice status

Catherine O'Brien will retain her apprentice allowance until Nov. 3 after being granted an extension based on her winter away from riding and an ensuing injury that kept her from returning until May 23, when she won her first race back here with La Bonito Uno.

O'Brien, although based here at Woodbine with agent Ron Burke, competed from Sunday through Tuesday at Fort Erie and compiled a record of 5-2-2 from 12 mounts.

Unfortunately, one of her second-place finishes followed the disqualification of Funny Peculier from the top spot in the fifth race and there may be repercussions.

Overall at Fort Erie this year, O'Brien has ridden seven winners and finished in the money a total of 25 times from 41 mounts.

At Woodbine, O'Brien had ridden 8 winners and recorded a total of 19 in-the-money finishes from 70 mounts heading into Wednesday's card.

Sterwins back in action

Sterwins is back in training after recovering from a bout of soreness that led to his being scratched from the Dominion Day Stakes here July 1.

X-rays and tests were conducted, but the exact cause of the problem never was determined.

"He really only lost five or six days," said Malcolm Pierce, who trains Sterwins. "I'm not saying it won't reoccur, but right now, we're in good shape."