10/03/2007 11:00PM

Vella targets juvenile stakes

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Danny Vella has some serious designs on a couple of upcoming 2-year-old stakes races here at Woodbine.

On Monday, Vella plans to send out Cool Gator in the Grade 3, $250,000 Grey at 1 1/16 miles. Vella also has Cryptonite Kid on target for the $250,000 Cup and Saucer, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Canadian-breds on Oct. 14.

Cool Gator is an Ontario-bred son of Macho Uno, who used his victory in the 2000 Grey as a stepping-stone to success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

After wintering in Florida, Cool Gator arrived at Woodbine in April.

"He was a big, leggy horse with a lot of filling in to do," Vella said. "You really wouldn't think he was going to be early."

Cool Gator debuted at six furlongs on Aug. 6, finishing eighth after a poor beginning.

"He acted up a little in the gate after the horse beside him acted up," Vella said. "He was a little immature, but it was good to get a start into him."

Vella said that he and the colt's owner-breeder, Garland Williamson, "always felt a distance was going to be his thing."

Cool Gator got the opportunity to stretch his legs in his next start, over a mile and 70 yards here Sept. 15. The transformation was dramatic, as Cool Gator overcame trouble at the break and rallied for a 1 3/4-length victory under returning rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.

"I thought he ran a very good race," Vella said. "He improved a lot from his first start. He's matured mentally since then. And, I think he's ready to step up again."

Cryptonite Kid, an Alberta-bred, was purchased at the local select yearling sale for $32,000 by Tony Bowling, who entered him in a 2-year-olds in training sale in Ocala where he was bought back. Vella then purchased Cryptonite Kid privately and the colt now races for Class Action Stable, a syndicate that includes Vella.

Cryptonite Kid has started three times, all on the turf.

"I liked him on the main track, but when we worked him on turf he flourished, so I went that route," Vella said.

"I think we'll try him on the main track before the end of the year, but I'm not going to miss the Cup and Saucer for that."

After finishing second behind the promising Briarwood Circle in his six-furlong debut here July 21, Cryptonite Kid graduated over the same distance three weeks later. In his most recent start, Cryptonite Kid finished fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in the Summer Stakes over one mile on turf here Sept. 16.

Prussian and Your Round, the one-three finishers in the Summer, both are pointing for the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park on Oct. 26.

Briarwood Circle, the runner-up, has been entered in Saturday's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

Cryptonite Kid will have to be supplemented to the Cup and Saucer at a cost of $6,000.

Duquet making Woodbine debut

Apprentice jockey Johanne Duquet checked into Woodbine this week and will be making her debut here with three mounts on Saturday's 10-race program.

Duquet, a 24-year-old native of Quebec City, got her start on the racetrack working with Standardbreds and spent four years as a groom in her home province before deciding to give the Thoroughbreds a whirl.

"I'd been getting on horses since I was 8 years old," said Duquet.

Duquet, who rode her first winner at Winnipeg's Assiniboia Downs on July 14, 2006, had hoped to come to Woodbine last fall but decided to hang up her tack in August in order to preserve her apprentice allowance.

Rather than attempting to start off this year in Ontario, Duquet relocated to Alberta and had a decent campaign with 22 wins and 63 in-the-money finishes from 275 mounts.

The Alberta Thoroughbred racing season wound up at Northlands Park last Sunday.

"If everything goes well, I'm hoping to stay here," said Duquet, who is being represented by jockey agent Tony Esposito.

Authenicat wins Victorian Queen

Authenicat ($7.90) blew away her Ontario-sired opponents here Wednesday night in the $126,200 Victorian Queen Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, completing six furlongs in a brisk 1:09.81.

Authenicat stalked the pace along the inside and hit the front midway on the turn. She drew off in the stretch to post a 5 3/4-length victory, giving jockey Patrick Husbands his meet-leading 20th stakes win.

"In the last six weeks this filly has really turned around and has learned how to relax," Husbands said. "One of her biggest problems was when you breezed her she just wanted to go, go, go, and then she just burned herself out. Her last two works before her last race were beautiful - she was relaxed. Coming into this race, she showed that she's a class filly."

Trained by Josie Carroll, Authenicat earned $75,000 in her first stakes score. She is owned by Vinery Stable LLC and Fog City Stable Inc.

Offspring of freshman sire D'Wildcat swept the first three positions in the Victorian Queen as D'Wild Lady closed for second and Lady d'Wildcat finished third.

Favored Simple Sister wound up seventh in the eight-horse field.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink