05/10/2004 11:00PM

Too Late Now gone too soon


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - At this time last year, Too Late Now was on a roll that would carry her to victory in the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and to an eventual title as Canada's champion 3-year-old filly.

Now, after just seven career outings and before making it to the races in 2004, Too Late Now has been hustled off to the breeding shed for a date with Bold Executive.

"She was training great and acting great," said Jim Day, who bred Too Late Now and trained the filly for the Come by Chance Stable of his mother, Edna Arrow. "She was looking more awesome than ever."

Too Late Now had recovered from knee surgery that ended her first campaign and had worked her way up to a strong gallop when she took a bad step during a recent morning exercise.

"She has a slight tendon problem," said Day. "If it was going to happen it's better it happened now, when there's still time to breed her."

A daughter of Raj Waki and Half of Everything, Too Late Now was unraced at 2 and won her first four starts here last spring, including the Grade 1 Selene at 1 1/16 miles and the Oaks at 1 1/8 miles.

Too Late Now lost for the first time when third in Fort Erie's 1 1/16-mile Labatt Bison City and, after a summer freshening, she was unplaced here in the Ontario Colleen over one mile of turf and in the seven-furlong Seaway against older rivals. She earned $566,110.

Encouraging effort by 'Smoothness'

Day took the wrapping off his main Queen's Plate hopeful here last Sunday as His Smoothness finished an encouraging second in his seasonal bow in a first-level allowance over seven furlongs of sloppy going. His Smoothness was bred by Day and is owned by Come by Chance Stable.

"It's important that he raced strategically," said Day, who was pleased that His Smoothness had rated nicely under Robert Landry before closing well to just miss.

His Smoothness started five times at 2, finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity before winding up his campaign by winning his maiden over 1 1/16 miles.

Day did not nominate His Smoothness to the Grade 2 Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race here May 22, and said the colt could make his final pre-Plate appearance in the $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 6.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, at 1 1/4 miles, will be run June 27.

One good race, one alibi

A Bit O'Gold and Winter Whiskey, a pair of Plate hopefuls trained by Catherine Day Phillips, both are nominated to the Marine but probably will await the Plate Trial.

Both geldings made their seasonal bows over seven furlongs of sloppy going here in last Saturday's Queenston, with A Bit O'Gold finishing a solid second and Winter Whiskey a distant seventh and last.

"I was very, very happy with A Bit O' Gold," said Day Phillips. "I think he ran a huge race - he compromised his chances by missing the break a little bit.

"He got a lot out of the race; he was plenty tired."

Day Phillips believes Winter Whiskey's performance should be excused.

"He just doesn't like an off track," she said. "He ran the exact same way last year on soft turf. He wasn't comfortable; he looked like a porpoise going down the lane."

Night Sky will go on Lasix

Another horse who performed well below expectations in the Queenston was Night Sky, who came into the race undefeated in two starts last year but stopped badly to end sixth.

"A horse with his talent, obviously something happened," said Danny Vella, who trains Night Sky for Stronach Stable. "To sum it up, he'll be running on Lasix next time."

Night Sky also is nominated to the Marine but Vella calls the timing "a little close."

Mobil preps for Met Mile

Mobil, who is scheduled to make his next appearance in the May 31 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the main track here Tuesday.

Robin Platts, a Canadian Hall of Fame jockey who now works as an exercise rider for trainer Mike Keogh, was aboard for the drill.

"It was a lovely work," said Keogh, who trains Mobil for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "Robin did a fantastic job getting him to work nice and easy."

Todd Kabel, Mobil's regular rider, has been engaged for the Met Mile.

New racing commissioners

David Gorman, Jane Garthson, and George S. Kelly have been appointed to three-year terms on the Ontario Racing Commission.

Gorman, a well-known racing executive with more than 45 years of experience in the industry, retired from 20 years of service with Woodbine early in 2003.

A vice president at the time of his retirement, Gorman earlier had served as general manager at Fort Erie.

Kelly had served as assistant director to the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association from its inception in 1996 to his retirement in 2003. His responsibilities included management and delivery of the province's $50 million Horse Improvement Plan.

Garthson is the owner and principal consultant for Mills Garthson & Associates, which specializes in governance and ethics for non-profit and government agencies. She served as executive director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation in the late 1990's and has been a volunteer with the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association since 1988.