08/07/2003 11:00PM

Williams News still after $1 million mark


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Williams News, a high-profile visitor in the past, has quietly taken up residence here in the barn of trainer Steve Owens.

"I've had him here for about two weeks," said Owens, who took delivery of Williams News after being contacted by the gelding's owners, On Target Racing Stable. "They're trying to put his life back together, to try and get him past the $1 million mark."

Williams News became an unlucky footnote in Woodbine history when he dropped a nose decision to Mutafaweq in the 2000 Canadian International, a race which the overwhelmingly majority of observers felt he had won until the photo indicated otherwise.

In 17 starts since then, all in top turf company, Williams News has managed one win, in Churchill's Grade 3 Elkhorn in April of 2001, and has no wins, no seconds and just three third-place finishes to show for his last 14 outings.

Now 8, Williams News last ran at Arlington July 5, finishing fifth in the Stars and Stripes. He has earned more than $976,000.

La Grande Mamma breezes

La Grande Mamma, who was claimed by Owens for $25,000 from her winning debut here July 4 and won the $137,375 Nandi Stakes in her first start for owner Don Lebovitz, breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds on the main track here Friday.

La Grande Mamma is slated to make her next start in the $125,000 Muskoka, one of six yearling sales stakes here Sept. 1. The filly went through the ring at Fasig-Tipton's local open sale but her $15,000 reserve was not met.

Owens will not be eligible for one of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's $15,000 bonuses available to the trainer of a sales graduate who wins a yearling sales stakes.

The bonus program includes a clause stating, "The only condition is that the horse must not have been claimed at any time."

Added Edge will pass Saratoga

Added Edge, Canada's champion 2-year-old male last year, had been under consideration for the $200,000 King's Bishop at Saratoga Aug. 23 but is now unlikely for that Grade 1 race at seven furlongs.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Team Valor Stables and Robert Wilson, Added Edge returned from a six-month layoff and finished third when facing older horses in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture here July 19.

"I think his first race back was okay, but it wasn't great," said Added Edge's trainer, Mark Casse. "If you're going to go into Saratoga, you've got to be at your very best.

"We decided we were just going to run him two turns, somewhere."

Maple Syrple staying home, for now

Maple Syrple, a 2-year-old filly who races for Added Edge's connections, had been slated to return to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Spinaway Aug. 29 after finishing second there in the opening-day Schuylerville. Instead, she may skip that trip and point for the Princess Elizabeth here Oct. 12.

Maple Syrple won her first two races here impressively, including a victory over males in the Clarendon.

The $250,000 Princess Elizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race, would be Maple Syrple's third start in Canada.

"We'd like to run her once more in Canada," Casse said, "so she'd have a shot to be a champion."

To be eligible for Sovereign Award consideration, a horse must have made three starts in Canada during the year, prior to a mid-November cutoff point.

Gigawatt to Belmont's Jerome

Gigawatt, another top Kentucky-bred 3-year-old in Casse's care, is slated to make his next start in Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Sept. 13.

Owned by Stonerside Stable, Gigawatt had been hindered by a foot problem and did not make his seasonal bow until June 22, when he won a second-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles here against older rivals.

In a subsequent start, in a third-level allowance race at Saratoga July 24, Gigawatt again faced older foes and finished fourth, beaten 10 3/4 lengths in sloppy going.

"The track was really bad, and it set him back a little bit," said Casse, who had been hoping to use the Saratoga race as Gigawatt's prep for Saturday's West Virginia Derby. "He needs a little more time between races."

Hour of Justice awaits Colleen

Hour of Justice, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly who was considered to be among the top prospects for Saturday's seven-furlong Duchess Stakes, was not entered there and is pointing instead for the $125,000 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race here Aug. 24.

"I was looking at the way the Duchess was coming up, and I think she could have won it," said trainer Reade Baker.

"But eventually we're going to have to see if she will stretch out, and I thought her long-term goals would be better served by going in the Colleen."

Hour of Justice has won 4 of 5 career starts, at distances ranging from five to 6 1/2 furlongs. She became a stakes winner here in the May 31 Alywow.

* Baker also has high hopes for Silver Bird, a 2-year-old filly who is the first horse owned by Magna Entertainment chief Jim McAlpine. She was an impressive winner of her debut here last Saturday.

Silver Bird was purchased for $40,000 by Baker and Mike Rogers, Stronach Stable's manager of racing operations, at the Adena Springs South sale this March.

"I liked her a lot," Baker said, "and she's done everything right. She's huge; she's one of the ones the more you do with her, the more she seems to gain weight."

Silver Bird is set to make her next start in the $150,000 Natalma, a Grade 3 race at one mile on turf here Sept. 6.