08/09/2006 11:00PM

Track pays for its gate mistake

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Judiths Wild Rush, last year's champion sprinter, has shipped to Saratoga for Saturday's Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Due to circumstances beyond his control, Main Executive didn't get to strut his stuff in the $125,000 Shepperton at Woodbine last Sunday.

But Main Executive didn't have to wait long to return to action, as he is among a field of six in a $79,900 allowance race at 7 1/2 furlongs here Saturday.

Main Executive actually was in the starting gate as the favorite for the Shepperton, but the back of his stall was not properly secured and the gelding was backing out just as the flag dropped.

That led to Main Executive being declared a non-starter for parimutuel purposes and Woodbine, acknowledging its ultimate responsibility for the miscue, awarded to his owner, Bruno Brothers Farm, the $400 starter's fee plus a refund of the $1,250 entry fee and $125 nomination fee.

"It was a very unfortunate circumstance," said Chris Evans, Woodbine's vice president of Thoroughbred racing. "It was obviously a mistake. We take it very seriously. That goes for our gate procedures in general."

The Shepperton miscue was the latest in a series of setbacks for Woodbine's beleaguered gate crew, which recently seems to have encountered more than its share of unruly entrants resulting in last-minute scratches.

Bob Duncan, former starter for the New York Racing Association and a guru in the field, was here last fall for a three-day working session with the gate crew and is scheduled to return next month.

Meanwhile, Main Executive went to the starting gate on Wednesday morning and breezed three furlongs in 36.40 seconds.

"I wanted to let him know that what happened wasn't his fault," said Radlie Loney, who trains Main Executive. "I know it was an accident, but those sort of things can mess up a horse's head."

Stakes action at two tracks for Baker

Trainer Reade Baker will be represented on two stakes fronts this Saturday, with Judiths Wild Rush at Saratoga for the Grade 2, $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs and Vestry Lady racing here in the $150,000 Duchess for 3-year-old fillies going 7 1/2 furlongs.

Judiths Wild Rush, Canada's champion sprinter last year, checked into Saratoga on Wednesday evening after vanning down with stablemate Devil's Bride, a 3-year-old filly whom Baker hopes to run in an allowance race there Sunday.

Devil's Bride also was nominated to the Duchess but Vestry Lady will be the Baker barn's lone entrant there.

"She's good right now," said Baker. "She's got the kind of speed we'll be able to use it any time we want."

Vestry Lady has started six times this season, winning once and finishing second on four occasions. In her last outing here on July 2, Vestry Lady finished second, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Sudsy Baby in a second-level allowance at seven furlongs.

Trainer of Sudsy Baby sounds confident

Sudsy Baby, trained by Stanley Baresich, was competitive in top company here at 2 and appears to be back at her best now after missing time this spring with the virus that was making the rounds here. Sudsy Baby is running in the Duchess, and Baresich is very bullish regarding her chances.

"I've got the best horse," said Baresich. "As long as she likes this racetrack, these horses are no match for her. There'll be no photo finish."

Sudsy Baby was making her third appearance of the season, and her first since April 30, when she won impressively last time out.

"She was not right; she was sick for a long time," said Baresich. "She was just coming around about two weeks prior to that last race."

Jim McKnight picks up the mount on Sudsy Baby.

Emma-Jayne Wilson has been the filly's regular rider this season but will be at Ascot on Saturday to participate in the Shergar Cup, a six-race tournament featuring jockeys from England and Ireland versus riders from other racing countries.

Saturday also marked the termination of Wilson's apprenticeship. She is scheduled to be riding as a journeyman here on Sunday.

Catsimile uses Vandal as stepping-stone

Catsimile, a winner of his only start, which came over 4 1/2 furlongs here June 4, returns to action on Sunday in the $125,000 Vandal Stakes.

The Vandal, a five-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds, attracted a field of six.

"Our main goal, once he broke his maiden, was to get to the yearling sales stakes," said Malcolm Pierce, who trains Catsimile and is a part-owner along with Windways Farm.

"He came out of his first race with a little bit of a shin, so I sent him home. It wasn't serious; he just needed a bit of time on the farm."

Catsimile, bought back by Windways for $9,000 from the open yearling sale here last fall, is eligible for the Simcoe, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old colts and geldings which will be one of six yearling sales stakes contested here Sept. 4.

"I'm really reserved about running 2-year-olds, especially on this temporary track," said Pierce. "But I think I have to use this race to get to the yearling sales stakes. I think I need a race under my belt to go seven-eighths."

Motel Dancing changes hands

Motel Dancing, who was nominated to the Duchess, has been sold privately and is now at Saratoga for owner Candlebrook Farm and trainer Scott Lake.

A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old who raced here for owner-trainer Dave Cotey and his partners Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith, Motel Dancing has won three of 10 starts while finishing in the money seven times and banking $193,627.