11/12/2007 12:00AM

Week's rest is plenty for Like a Gem

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - While Monashee lost some of her luster, Like a Gem continued to shine at Woodbine in last Saturday's $207,000 Maple Leaf Stakes.

Like a Gem continued to make up for lost time by earning her first main-track stakes win in the Maple Leaf, a 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares.

It was the third consecutive victory within a four-week span for Like a Gem, a homebred 4-year-old owned by Garland Williamson and trained by Danny Vella.

"It was a pretty tough race," Vella said of the Maple Leaf. "My filly just showed how tough she is, and how good she is, to be able to be bounce out of that turf race."

In her most recent appearance here, Oct. 27, Like a Gem won the River Memories at one mile on yielding turf. Two weeks prior to that, she had won a third-level allowance at 1o1/16 miles on yielding going.

Monashee, meanwhile, came into the Maple Leaf riding an 11-race win streak, with eight of those tallies coming at Hastings and three at Northlands Park - all in stakes races.

Sent off as the 8-5 choice under jockey Justin Stein, Monashee finished eighth in the field of 10 while making her first start on a synthetic surface, her first on a one-mile racetrack, and her first beyond 1 1/8 miles.

"We were very disappointed," said trainer Tracy McCarthy. "It was not how we envisioned the race unfolding. She should have been on the lead, with those fractions."

McCarthy added that no physical excuse for Monashee's performance was immediately evident.

"She came out of the race phenomenally," said McCarthy. "She's a very frustrated horse.

"We're just chalking this up as an unfortunate experience. She had an unfortunate race two years ago, in the British Columbia Derby, and she came back to win the Ballerina."

Monashee, a Kentucky-bred 6-year-old, was scheduled to be back in Vancouver on Wednesday morning.

"We're definitely planning to go to California this month," said McCarthy. "I'd like to try her on grass."

McCarthy mentioned the Grade 2, $150,000 Dahlia, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park on Dec. 16, as a possibility for Monashee's turf debut.

The Grade 2, $150,000 Bayakoa, a 1o1/16-mile race on the main track there Dec. 1, is another option.

Stein, who was riding Monashee for the first time since the Ballerina, said he believed she handled the Polytrack surface in a mechanical sense but did not enjoy the conditions.

"I just don't think she ran her race," said Stein. "I don't think she liked the mile track, or the Polytrack. She's a lot better than what she showed."

No stranger to winning on short rest

Vella, 51, won his first race here in the spring of 1985 and has gained a wealth of experience through years when running a good horse such as Like a Gem on a tight schedule was not such a cause for astonishment.

"Certainly, over the course of the last 10 years, trainers have become more conservative," said Vella. "A lot of young trainers now have never seen it done, and don't believe it can be done.

"I don't believe it's for every horse, but if you know your horse, and they're in good order, there's no reason that it can't be done."

Vella recalled winning consecutive races one week apart with Diamonds Galore, the first horse he trained for Frank Stronach, here in 1991.

More recently, Vella won two races within a five-day span with Sir Blitz in the summer of 2005.

Meanwhile, Vella isn't about to put Like a Gem in mothballs following her recent flurry of activity.

"I'm kind of looking out of town," said Vella. "We'd love to run her here again, but there really isn't a whole lot left."

Display next target for Cool Gator

Cool Gator will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his older half-sister Like a Gem in the $125,000 Display, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds here Nov. 24.

Also owned and bred by Williamson, Cool Gator is coming off back-to-back second-place finishes here in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Grey and the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

Cryptonite Kid, an Alberta-bred whom Vella trains for Class Action Stable, could make his main-track debut in the Display after competing on the turf in his first four outings.

In his latest, Cryptonite Kid was second in the $253,200 Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles.

Dance to My Tune may try Bessarabian

Dance to My Tune, who has been a model of consistency while competing under a variety of circumstances over the past few months, recorded her second stakes score here Sunday in the $151,200 Jammed Lovely for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Dave Cotey, Dance to My Tune had raced on the dirt when second in the 1 1/8-mile Assiniboia Oaks, on Polytrack here when running second in the 1 1/16-mile Algoma and winning the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette, and on turf when second in the 1 1/8-mile Carotene here last time out.

In the Jammed Lovely, Dance to My Tune was cutting back to seven furlongs and racing for the first time in five weeks under her regular rider, Constant Montpellier.

Dance to My Tune, who had not sprinted since her seasonal debut on April 8, prepped with a five-furlong breeze in a bullet 47 seconds here last Sunday.

"I let her run along a little bit," said Cotey, who also owns Dance to My Tune in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. "I wanted to get a little speed into her.

"I thought she'd be running on [at the] end, and after running a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth, she wasn't going to be getting tired. But, I didn't dream of this. She ran way beyond my expectations."

Dance to My Tune has been nominated to the $150,000 Bessarabian, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares here Nov. 25.

"I'll take a look at it," said Cotey. "I'll see how she comes out of this race."