05/21/2006 11:00PM

Top Notch Lady confronts 'Angel'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Top Notch Lady and Angel on Watch could vie for favoritism in the Grade 3, $250,000 Selene Stakes on Wednesday at Woodbine.

The 1 1/16-mile event was originally scheduled for last Sunday, but was postponed when the day's last seven races were called off because of high winds.

Top Notch Lady captured the Glorious Song Stakes in November over Angel on Watch. She was absent for four months heading into the Grade 3 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes at Turfway March 25, which she won by a neck on the Polytrack surface.

Most recently in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill, Top Notch Lady was far back early in a 14-horse field. She had some trouble and wound up eighth, nearly eight lengths back of victorious Lemons Forever, whom she beat in the Bourbonette.

Trainer Mark Casse felt that Top Notch Lady's effort in the Kentucky Oaks was better than it appears.

"She got bothered a little going into the first turn," Casse 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," Casse added. "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's lone defeat in three starts was a neck loss in the seven-furlong Glorious Song.

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 trainer Mark Frostad. "She's never been around two turns, but mentally, she's a tough filly. She's very competitive."

The Selene has lured four other 3-year-old fillies, including Woodbine Oaks nominees Like a Gem, Questuary, and Seductively.

Like a Gem became a serious prospect for the June 11 Oaks when she finished a close second to Gumboots in the May 7 Fury Stakes.

Chris Vella, an assistant to his father, trainer Danny Vella, believes that Like a Gem might have won the seven-furlong Fury if Gumboots had gotten more pressure on the front end.

Vella said that Seductively's tack had slipped "and that enabled Gumboots to get on an easy pace," Vella said. "Like a Gem tried hard. She definitely wants to go farther."