10/19/2004 11:00PM

Velvet Snow a cut above in turf mile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winner Velvet Snow will be favored in Friday's featured second race at Woodbine, a $62,500 optional claimer scheduled for a mile on the grass.

Velvet Snow, one of two 3-year-olds in the six-horse field of fillies and mares, captured the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Damsel Stakes in her second grass start in July. She subsequently finished fourth against older opposition in the Grade 3 Royal North Handicap, a six-furlong dash won by the powerful Hour of Justice.

Velvet Snow was up against it trying to come from off a slow pace two weeks ago, in the nine-furlong Carotene Stakes, yet she managed to finish second to unbeaten Black Rock Road in a commendable performance. Among those left in her wake were My Vintage Port, last year's champion 2-year-old filly, and Bison City Stakes winner Touchnow.

Velvet Snow won her maiden at a mile on the grass, and should welcome the turnback in distance. Apprentice Corey Fraser retains the mount for leading trainer Bob Tiller.

Cavalier Billie, the 2002 Ontario Damsel winner, struggled in his first three outings this year, then won a $50,000 claimer going six furlongs on turf Sept. 17. She is coming off a flat fifth-place finish at this $62,500 classification, and has a mediocre record at one mile on the grass.

Phil Gracey trains Cavalier Billie, who figures to have a ground-saving trip under jockey Steven Bahen.

Swift of Flight is the probable pacemaker. A Sam-Son Farm homebred, she was stakes placed two years ago at 2 in a division of the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes.

Swift of Flight has a victory in seven starts this season, the win coming in an allowance sprint Aug. 22. Most recently, in a $62,500 claiming sprint, she pressed a fast pace before weakening in the final furlong.

English import Daytime Girl is making her first appearance in North America. A 3-year-old by the brilliant Daylami, Daytime Girl won her maiden over soft ground last fall and was victorious under 124 pounds in a minor stakes going 1 1/4 miles on June 8 at Chester. She has been sidelined since finishing far back in a June 26 handicap.

Daytime Girl is making her first start with Lasix, which has been a successful improvement angle with European imports when they debut in North America.

Pipers Trick is experimenting on the grass with a dirt pedigree. She was unplaced in a recent seven-furlong allowance, from which the seventh- and ninth-place finishers both exited to win for $40,000.