05/18/2006 11:00PM

'Top Notch' comes off Ky. Oaks


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Top Notch Lady should be tough going from the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks to the Grade 3, $250,000 Selene Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine.

The Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race, has lured five other 3-year-old fillies, including Woodbine Oaks nominees Like a Gem, Questuary, and Seductively.

Top Notch Lady won 3 of 6 starts as a 2-year-old, including the Glorious Song Stakes in November. She was absent for four months heading into the Grade 3 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes at Turfway on March 25, which she won by a neck over the Polytrack surface.

In the Kentucky Oaks, Top Notch Lady was far back in a 14-horse field and finished eighth, 7 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Lemons Forever, whom she beat in the Bourbonette.

Trainer Mark Casse said he felt Top Notch Lady's Oaks effort was better than it appears.

"She got bothered a little going into the first turn," he said. "She likes to be about four or five lengths off the lead, but she ended up 10 lengths back. She made a middle move, but then flattened out down the lane.

"The Bourbonette took a lot out of her, and I gave her six weeks off heading into the Oaks. I don't know if she's at 100 percent of where she can be now, but she's pretty good."

Patrick Husbands will ride Top Notch Lady.

Angel on Watch should be well-backed under Todd Kabel. Her lone defeat in three starts was a neck loss to Top Notch Lady in the seven-furlong Glorious Song. Trainer Mark Frostad said Angel on Watch got a bad trip in the Glorious Song.

"It was her second race in a row where she started on the inside, and she got in all kinds of trouble," Frostad said.

Angel on Watch ran big following a winter layoff at Keeneland, taking a seven-furlong allowance after forcing the pace four wide on the turn, perhaps the most difficult trip a horse can have over a track that often favors speed and the inside.

"She probably needed that race, and she'll probably need this one," said Frostad. "She's never been around two turns, but mentally, she's a tough filly. She's very competitive."

Like a Gem became a serious prospect for the June 11 Oaks when she finished second to Gumboots in the May 7 Fury Stakes. One start before that, she won a six-furlong allowance.