10/25/2011 11:36AM

Woodbine: Baker barn ready for strong stretch run

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Michael Burns
City Wolf, with Emma-Jayne Wilson riding, wins the Durham Cup, his stakes debut.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – It has been a solid season for the Reade Baker stable, which had recorded 48 wins and purse money of more than $2.5 million heading into the final six weeks of the meeting.

“I’m very happy with our year, and we’ll have a strong finish if our races go,” said Baker,

“I had an overwhelming number of 2-year-olds with bucked shins. That was the only thing that slowed us up. I’ll have seven or eight ready to run in the last week, but are there going to be races for them?”

The only races guaranteed to go are the regularly scheduled stakes and Baker, who has saddled eight stakes winners at the meeting, hopes to have at least a half-dozen hopefuls looking to add to that total.

This weekend, Baker plans to send out Point of Emminence for Saturday’s $250,000 Princess Elizabeth and Fantastic Cousin for Sunday’s $150,000 Ontario Fashion.

City Wolf is on target for an appearance in the Grade 2, $150,000 Autumn on Nov. 12, with Tu Endie Wei slated for the following day’s $150,000 Glorious Song.

Bear It’s Time is heading for the $150,000 Jammed Lovely on Nov. 16 and Fatal Bullet for the Grade 3, $150,000 Kennedy Road on Nov. 19.

And then there is Rayham, who could be making his stakes debut in the $125,000 Sir Barton on Nov. 30 if all goes well in his next start.

Point of Eminence, a homebred who races for Roger Fortier’s Jus Luk Stable, will be stepping up for the Princess Elizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies, after winning first crack out at the $32,000 claiming level over the same distance.

“She’s improving, she’s Canadian-bred, she’ll go long, so why not?,” said Baker.

On Monday morning, Point of Emminence breeze five furlongs in 1:03.80 under jockey Jim McAleney.

“She didn’t work fast, but she worked perfect,” said Baker.

Fantastic Cousin, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old who races for Jim and Susan Hill, will be seeking her first stakes win in the Ontario Fashion, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares.

In her last start, which came in the off-the-turf Avowal Stakes at seven furlongs, Fantastic Cousin finished second behind a dominant Ariana D, who also is scheduled to run in the Ontario Fashion.

“She’s run well a number of times, but she always seems to run into somebody special,” said Baker, noting that Fantastic Cousin has won just two of 13 starts but has finished in the top three on 11 occasions.

Fantastic Cousin tuned up for the Ontario Fashion with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 on the training track here last Sunday.

“She breezes fast, and she runs hard,” said Baker.

City Wolf, the hottest horse under the Baker shed row, would be looking for his fifth straight win in the Autumn, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward.

“He’s on target,” said Baker, who sent out the 4-year-old City Wolf to breeze five furlongs in 1:00 over the training track here Sunday. “Everything’s perfect.”

City Wolf is coming off an impressive win in the Grade 3 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race here Oct. 2 that was his stakes debut.

Tu Endie Wei breezed five furlongs in 1:02 on the training track here Sunday in preparation for the seven-furlong Glorious Song, which is an open race for 2-year-old fillies.

After winning the five-furlong My Dear and the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Debutante in her first two starts here, Tu Endie Wei journeyed to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Alcibiades and was beaten 7 3/4 lengths as the seventh-place finisher.

“She was fine that day, until I put the tack on her,” said Baker. “She didn’t lose it, but she got anxious.

“I’m going to be schooling her a little bit.”

Bear It’s Time, the top earner in the Baker barn this year with $367,120, will be cutting back to seven furlongs for the Jammed Lovely, which is for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

Owned by Danny Dion’s Bear Stable, Bear It’s Time recorded her third stakes win of the season last time out in the Classy ‘n Smart, a 1 1/16 mile race here Oct. 5 in which she defeated older Ontario-sired fillies.

“She’ll have some time between starts, and she’ll like the distance,” said Baker, who sent out Bear It’s Time to win the restricted Lady Angela over that distance in her seasonal bow.

Fatal Bullet will be looking to regroup in the Kennedy Road, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward.

“He just didn’t handle the soft turf last time,” said Baker, who had watched Fatal Bullet struggle while finishing 10th in the soft going in the Oct. 16 Nearctic at six furlongs.

Raynham, an Ontario-sired 3-year-old, came to life to win his maiden for a $25,000 claiming price in his fourth career start and then doubled up in a first-level allowance. Both victories came in restricted company at 1 1/16 miles.

“He just keeps getting better,” said Baker. “I don’t know where it’s from, to be honest with you.”

Raynham underlined his improvement when he breezed five furlongs in a bullet :58.80 on the training track here Sunday.

“His work was amazing,” said Baker. “He was out [six furlongs] in 1:12 and change:”

Baker hopes to bring Raynham back at his next allowance condition and then possibly move on to the Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

◗ The local division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society has selected Eva Hirmer as this year’s winner of the Gillian Luxton scholarship.

Hirmer, who is her fourth year at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, has received a $5,000 scholarship toward her doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Gillian Luxton was a prominent owner and breeder and a director of the horse society in Ontario.

◗ A silent auction of Thoroughbred and Standardbred art will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. here Saturday in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame area.

Bids on Thoroughbred items will close at 6 p.m. and on Standardbred items at 8 p.m.

Details of the works offered are available at canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com.