10/30/2003 12:00AM

Trying to keep it in the family


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Unbeaten A Bit O' Gold, a full brother to the 2002 Coronation Futurity winner, Arco's Gold, will try to win his stakes debut Saturday in this year's running of the $250,000 Coronation, a nine-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

The Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile for fillies and mares, is the co-feature on the 11-race card at Woodbine.

A Bit O' Gold won his debut by a length after a wide stalking trip in a six-furlong maiden special Sept. 28. He struck again Oct. 17 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance. He dueled through slow fractions in the allowance, and gutted it out in the stretch to prevail by a head. He earned a respectable Beyer Speed Figure of 86.

A Bit O' Gold's trainer, Catherine Day-Phillips said: "He's been training well and loves a muddy track. I didn't want to run him back in two weeks, but he seems to be handling everything well, and he hasn't missed an oat. He's a big strong horse who's trained like an older horse from the minute he started breezing. He just does everything so easily, and he's shown a lot of versatility."

Day-Phillips said she was a big fan of recently deceased Arco's Gold, who overcame adversity to win the Coronation. Arco's Gold dead-heated with Mobil, who was disqualified because his rider's whip struck Arco's Gold in the stretch.

"He ran a very gutsy race," Day-Phillips said. "He got smacked over the head with the whip and still persevered."

Rounding out the Coronation lineup are His Smoothness, Langburg, Third Sacker, Moonlight Duel, Copper Trail, Kent Ridge, Sid Dithers, Spiritualist, and Twisted Wit.

Langburg was a close second to A Bit O' Gold in the Oct. 17 allowance, his first outing since he was fourth in the Aug. 17 Vandal Stakes.

According to trainer Roger Attfield, Langburg went into the Vandal with sore shins, and he bucked his shins in the race.

Attfield also entered Third Sacker, a maiden, who was recently third on turf in the Cup and Saucer Stakes.

Twisted Wit won his first three races, including two restricted sprint stakes, and is coming off a fourth-place finish going a 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Grey BC Stakes.

Copper Trail won both of his starts, both restricted stakes under jockey Francine Villeneuve: the six-furlong Juvenile and the seven-furlong Frost King.

"He's a long-legged horse, with a huge stride," Villeneuve said. "He'll keep going."