07/05/2006 11:00PM

Top juveniles meet in Clarendon


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Promising 2-year-olds Seaside Links and Spread the News will clash in Saturday's $150,000 Clarendon Stakes.

The five-furlong sprint for Ontario-breds will be the first stakes race run over Woodbine's inner dirt track, which is normally used for harness racing. The main track is currently being converted into a Polytrack surface, so racing is scheduled on the inner track until the end of August.

Seaside Links graduated at first asking in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight dash June 11. He broke a step slowly, then closed three wide to win by a neck, receiving a 67 Beyer Speed Figure.

Seaside Links, from the first crop of Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, was a $100,000 Keeneland yearling purchase by Woodford Racing LLC, a new partnership headed by Bill Farish Jr.

"He's a real pretty horse, with a nice pedigree," said trainer Mark Casse. "He's done everything right from the beginning, and seems to have a lot of class. I'm not really sure that five-eighths is his game. I thought about not running him for a while, because I wanted to concentrate on races in the fall, but he's ready to run. I look at him as a Queen's Plate horse for next year, if he stays healthy."

Spread the News, trained by Bob Tiller, was the talk of the track after his June 4 debut. After getting away slowly, he mounted an explosive wide rally from far back to finish a close second, despite trying to lug in through the stretch.

Spread the News had a four-wide pace-pressing trip in his second start, which he won by a neck over his stablemate Dancer's Bajan. The 70 Beyer he earned that day is the highest in the Clarendon field.

"He ran really green in his first race," Tiller said. "He really didn't know what he was going out there. He improved a lot in his second start. He ran a lot straighter and dug in when Dancer's Bajan came along side."

Backgammon, a $180,000 yearling purchase, is the lone first-time starter in the Clarendon's six-horse field. Backgammon is a full-brother to Tothemoonandback, who has won stakes on dirt and turf here this year for trainer Reade Baker.

"He's more advanced than Tothemoomandback was at this stage," Baker said. "They're both chestnuts, but he's probably a little bigger and longer than Tothemoonandback. He's certainly a good-looking horse, and he's trained well."

Dafoe finished a well-beaten third as a maiden last time out in the Victoria Stakes.

Mutakinmove is donning blinkers after running fourth behind Seaside Links in his only outing.