10/26/2006 11:00PM

Weather big factor in Labeeb


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's $100,000 Labeeb is the last scheduled overnight turf stakes of the Ontario season.

But with rain and snow in the forecast, the likelihood of the Labeeb staying on turf is far from secure.

The leading candidates for the Labeeb are Seaside Retreat, French Beret, and Just Rushing.

Seaside Retreat also was entered in Saturday's $100,000 Chief Bearhart, a 1 1/4-mile overnight turf stakes. His trainer, Mark Casse, has said he does not want to run Seaside Retreat on soft turf.

French Beret, a turf specialist, would be a doubtful starter in the Labeeb it if were switched to Polytrack. Meanwhile, Just Rushing, on a string of six consecutive victories, could be scratched if the Labeeb stays on turf.

Seaside Retreat will be making his first start as a gelding. He won the Charlie Barley, a one-mile turf race here on June 25, with French Beret running second.

Corey Fraser has the call on Seaside Retreat for the Labeeb, while regular rider Patrick Husbands was named on Seaside Retreat for the Chief Bearhart on Saturday.

French Beret came back from the Charlie Barely to win the Toronto Cup over 1 1/8 miles and then finish second in the Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

A 3-year-old gelding owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, French Beret is coming into the Labeeb off a second-place finish behind Sky Conqueror in an open one-mile turf allowance here Oct. 8.

Sky Conqueror came back to finish an unlucky third in last Sunday's Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International.

"Off his last race, I think he fits these beautifully," said Frostad. "But I'd don't think I'd run him if it comes off the turf; we'd have to look at it."

Just Rushing, who was claimed for $40,000 here last fall, extended his win streak to six last out, on Oct. 8, with his first stakes score, in the seven-furlong Mt. Sassafras for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

Owned by Tucci Stable and trained by Sid Attard, Just Rushing was badly beaten in his only start on turf, which came over yielding going for his previous connections last summer.

"We're hoping it comes off," said Attard. "I don't think I'd run him otherwise; we'd have to see."

Emma-Jayne Wilson again will ride Just Rushing.

Last year's Labeeb was taken off the turf and run at a mile and 70 yards on the main track. Estevan, who became a stakes winner in that race, also is in Sunday's field of eight. Patrick Husbands returns aboard Estevan.