07/22/2004 12:00AM

Vella taking a shot with Super Case


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With the specter of Soaring Free looming large, there was some question as to whether Saturday's Ontario Jockey Club Stakes would attract enough enough runners to be carded.

But the OJC, a seven-furlong turf race that is not part of the guaranteed stakes schedule, drew more than enough entrants, and a field of seven will vie for a purse of $107,000.

Among those taking their shots against Soaring Free are Super Case, trained by Danny Vella, and Langfleur, trained by Mike Keogh.

Super Case, a 4-year-old colt owned by Stronach Stable, has won 3 of his 4 career starts, including his turf debut in a second-level allowance over six furlongs here June 10.

"There aren't a lot of spots for him," said Vella. "This race is for Canadian-breds going short on turf, which is what he really likes. Perhaps it's time to find out how good he really is."

Langfleur, a 4-year-old gelding owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz, did not debut until January at Gulfstream, where an awkward start ended his chances.

But since coming to Woodbine and starting to race on turf, Langfleur is 2 for 2, having won his maiden and capturing a first-level allowance, with both races over six furlongs of yielding going.

"He's a humongous horse - he's about 17 hands," said Keogh, explaining that size was the reason behind Langfleur's late start.

"Both his races here have been really good. He's coming around quickly."

Last-minute decision

Less than two hours before entries closed here Thursday morning, trainer Franz Crean was still on the fence regarding the participation of Catarina Dorata in Saturday's Shady Well, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Crean, who trains Catarina Dorata for the Abington Farm of Martin Earle, sent out the filly to win impressively for $32,000 here on June 30 in her only start.

But Catarina Dorata also is eligible for the $125,000 Nandi, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired fillies here Aug. 8, and for the $75,000 Juvenile, a six-furlong sales stakes for fillies at Fort Erie Sept. 4.

"I have to be careful how much I use her," said Crean.

In the end, Crean did not enter Catarina Dorata in the Shady Well.

Catarina Dorata actually was acquired as a learning companion for I'm a Cheetah, who won an Ontario-sired maiden special here July 3. I'm a Cheetah is a homebred daughter of Lions Raw, who raced with success here in 1999 and 2000.

Wynnwood Farm was offering weanlings for sale and Crean and Earle went shopping there.

"We ended up buying her," said Crean of I'm a Cheetah. "She was the cheapest one they had, and she was the one we liked."

Earle did not want to keep both horses in training and he did want to part with his homebred. So, Catarina Dorata was entered in the open session of the yearling sale here last fall.

"He couldn't get a bid on her," said Crean. "So, he ended up having two horses in training."

I'm a Cheetah, a daughter of Kiridashi, currently is getting a bit of a break.

"I had a little window of opportunity, so I sent her for two weeks to the farm," said Crean. "I'm looking for a fall campaign with her."

Philly invader scores in stakes

Barath, a longshot based at Philadelphia Park, rallied from eighth and last to capture the $133,000 Overskate Stakes here on Wednesday night.

Barath returned $33 in notching his first stakes in the seven-furlong event for Ontario-sired runners.

He earned $79,800 for owner Tze On Yeung, who claimed him for $18,000 here in June 2003.

Barath was barred from racing in Ontario last summer after he dwelt at the break three times in a row. He resurfaced last fall with his current trainer, Guadalupe Preciado, who sent him out to win a series of allowance races and starters over the winter at Philly Park.

Jockey Harry Vega flew in for the mount on Barath, who broke a bit slowly from the inside post in the Overskate.

Krz Ruckus set fractions of 22.42 and 44.71 seconds before giving way to Choreography, who opened up a clear lead early in the stretch. Barath rallied strongly in the two path and overhauled Choreography in the final strides to prevail by a length.

"It was a good clean race, and the holes opened up when they were supposed to," Vega said.

Barbeau Ruckus finished third, while 9-5 favorite Luke in My Pocket ended up fifth. The final time was 1:23.06.

Barath has won 12 of 30 starts for earnings of $236,247.

Services for Papa

A funeral mass for Richard Papa was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Benedict's Church, at 2194 Kipling Avenue in Etobicoke. Papa, an owner and trainer who was active over the past 40 years, died in the hospital Tuesday at age 92.

Papa started out with the late Gordon Huntley, who went on to be a Hall of Fame trainer. Papa's major success stories with Huntley included the stakes-winning filly Bedknob in the early 1970's.

In the mid-1980's, Papa owned and trained the talented Banker's Jet, who went on to have a long and productive career after being acquired by interests in the United States.

Papa later had horses with trainer Frank Passero and, in recent years, with Scott Fairlie. At the time of his death, he was a part-owner of Mr. Perpetuity, who has won 4 of his 6 starts this year.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink