05/28/2012 12:24PM

Woodbine: Bantee brings Woodbine Oaks prospects up to eight

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Michael Burns
Bantee gets in some exercise over the Woodbine training track.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Bantee has tossed her hat into the ring for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks to bring the prospective field for Sunday’s headliner to eight.

Owned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by Reade Baker, Bantee would be making just her fourth career start and her first beyond six furlongs in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

In her only appearance this season, Bantee rallied strongly apparently to win her maiden at six furlongs but was disqualified and placed seventh.

“It’s not going to be a big field, and this will be her only chance in her life to run for this much money,” said Baker. “We might as well give it a try.”

Trainer Mark Casse’s trio of Woodbine Oaks candidates all breezed five furlongs here over the weekend, with Dixie Strike going in 1:01 on Saturday under Patrick Husbands, Northern Passion clocked in 1:00.40 on Sunday with Luis Contreras in the irons, and Black Bird Rock timed in 1:01 on Sunday.

Dixie Strike is coming off an impressive win in the Grade 3 Selene over 1 1/16 miles here May 13 and will be a heavy favorite for the Woodbine Oaks.

Northern Passion won the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes over one mile on turf here last September and the seven-furlong Fury on the main track in her last outing.

Black Bird Rock won her maiden over 1 1/16 miles in her second career appearance vhere April 28. Eurico Rosa da Silva has picked up the mount for the Woodbine Oaks.

Rounding out the probable field are Rose and Shine, Horseshoe Hill, Irish Mission, and Awesome Fire.

Rose and Shine, winner of the seven-furlong Muskoka and the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth here last season, breezed in 1:04 on Saturday under jockey Omar Moreno.

“I would have liked to see her work a little quicker, but it was all right,” said trainer Ralph Biamonte. “She’s never been a really good work horse.”

Horseshoe Hill, coming off her maiden win here over 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, worked six furlongs in 1:13.20 last Saturday with Justin Stein aboard.

Irish Mission, who notched her first win over 1 3/16 miles on turf at Keeneland last time out, breezed five furlongs on Saturday in 1:01.40 under Alex Solis.

Awesome Fire had her final workout for the Woodbine Oaks on May 21, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.

“She’s breezed twice since her last start,” said assistant trainer Martha Gonzalez, who had watched Awesome Fire finish a closing fourth in the Fury on April 29. “She’s good to go.”