09/18/2002 11:00PM

Trapped tongue explains fave's poor race

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Paul Nielsen was puzzled when Le Cinquieme Essai finished last in the Grade 3 Col. R.S. McLaughlin Handicap last Saturday at Woodbine.

The problem, he discovered moments after the race, was that the horse's tongue was trapped over the bit. A figure-eight nose band didn't allow the mouth to open and breathing was difficult. Jockey Brian Bochinski, sensing trouble, didn't punish his mount.

"Somehow he bit the end of his tongue a little bit," Nielsen theorized. "He sucked back a little and it went over the bit. I'm not exactly sure where it happened."

Le Cinquieme Essai, a gelding based at Fort Erie, had been undefeated in three previous starts this year, and was the even-money favorite in the McLaughlin. One of his victories was at Fort Erie, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown.

A virus prevented Le Cinquieme Essai from competing in the third leg of the series, the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine Aug. 10.

"To my knowledge he was as good as he has been all year," said Nielsen about Le Cinquieme Essai's last start. "He never showed that tendency before. From now on, he will wear a tongue strap."

Nielsen said Le Cinquieme Essai galloped well Thursday morning. The Grade 2 Sky Classic, Oct. 27, is being considered as his next start. The $250,000 race for 3-year-olds and up is at 1 3/8 miles on grass at Woodbine.

Glean helps keep trainer Hughes rolling

Winning an allowance turf test here on Sunday, Glean gave trainer Judy Hughes her fourth win at the meet from 23 starts.

With seven weeks left in the meeting, Hughes has already matched her win total here last year, when she won four races from 36 starts.

Hughes, 50, who started as an exercise rider, has been a trainer for almost 23 years. She started at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon, where her biggest accomplishment was training Amblin Sam to 10 wins from 15 starts in 1980.

"It was the most wins by a horse in Canada that year," said Hughes, who won four races with Amblin Sam in 1979. "I bought him as a maiden in Vancouver for $1,200."

Rider David is back

Daniel David, 38, returned to the jockey colony here last week. He has 804 wins from 6,303 career starts going into this week, but because he has diabetes, he has had difficulty maintaining riding weight.

David arrived at Fort Erie in late in 2001 and finished up with 23 wins, 34 seconds, and 21 thirds from 158 starts for an in-the-money percentage of 49.7. A nephew of Hall of Fame rider Ron Turcotte, David has been galloping horses at Woodbine this year as well as riding Quarter Horses at Picov Downs in Ajax, Ont., on Sundays.

* The Ontario Racing Commission has turned down the appeal of trainer Jim Day regarding the disqualification of Bubbi Trap in the $125,000 Rainbow Connection Stakes here July 16. Bubbi Trap finished first but was disqualified for carrying an incorrect weight.