07/17/2006 12:00AM

Tight turns shouldn't hinder 'Tothemoon'

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Tothe-moonandback, the leading 3-year-old sprinter at Woodbine, seeks his third consecutive stakes victory Wednesday in the $125,000 Deputy Minister.

The 7 1/2-furlong event for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds will be the first start around two turns for Tothemoon-andback, who should be able to handle the tight inner-track oval, according to trainer Reade Baker.

"He's an agile horse with speed, and shouldn't have any trouble with the turns," Baker said. "Horses with a big, long stride who take a long time getting into gear are going to have trouble with that track."

Tothemoonandback has lost only once in five starts, which was when he came up with sore shins second time out at 2 and wound up seventh in the Bull Page Stakes. He launched his current campaign with a five-furlong allowance tally, and subsequently won his turf debut in the six-furlong Bold Ruckus Stakes.

Tothemoonandback ran another big one July 1, in the six-furlong Achievement Stakes. He tracked a sizzling pace on the outside en route to a convincing score, earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure over a lightning-fast track.

The Deputy Minister will be his first start beyond six furlongs, but Baker said the additional distance shouldn't be a problem for Tothemoonandback. "Nobody was gaining on him in the Achievement," Baker said.

After the Deputy Minister, Baker said he will point Tothemoonand-back toward the Sept. 3 Vice Regent, a one-mile grass stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Bad Hat, the runner-up in the Achievement, will likely be the second choice in the six-horse Deputy Minister field. After trailing in the five-horse field on the backstretch in the Achievement, he closed wide to finish 3 1/4 lengths in arrears.

Bad Hat left the Queen's Plate trail in the spring after contracting a virus, and came up empty when he experimented on grass in the Bold Ruckus.

Bad Hat breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 over the tracking track last Friday, much to trainer Mike DePaulo's satisfaction.

"He worked good with an exercise rider on him," DePaulo said. "He's doing really well. Hopefully, we're back on track."

DePaulo said he hopes to turn the tables on Tothemoonandback, who is picking up two more pounds than Bad Hat for the Deputy Minister.

"They're both going to carry 126 pounds," DePaulo said. "Bad Hat has won going two turns, and we'll see if Tothemoonandback can do it. He's going to have to go farther than he's ever run, and will have to pick up some weight."