05/09/2011 11:37AM

Woodbine: Bear's Chill continues to impress

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Bear’s Chill confirmed his position as the hottest horse in the local 3-year-old division with his front-running win in this past Saturday’s seven-furlong Queenston Stakes.

“I loved his race,” said Reade Baker, who trains Bear’s Chill for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion. “I loved his first quarter, and he galloped out well.”

With regular rider Emile Ramsammy in the irons, the imposing Bear’s Chill led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.51 seconds and continued with ground-devouring strides en route to a 2 1/2-length victory.

His final time of 1:21.91 yielded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

With the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate on the horizon, the $1 million question will be how Bear’s Chill adapts to two-turn racing.

“I’m a little worried,” said Baker. “He’s been so bullish since he got home.”

Bear’s Chill did race around two turns on the turf at Gulfstream, finishing fourth at 1 1/16 miles while making his first start in 3 1/2 months.

“I was confused. I had trouble getting him fit,” said Baker. “I knew to come back here, and have a big spring, he would need a winter race.”

Bear’s Chill has kept up his end of the bargain, winning a first-level allowance race over seven furlongs before his Queenston romp.

The $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race here June 5, looms as Bear’s Chill’s probable stepping-stone to the June 26 Queen’s Plate. Both races are for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

ThreeBear’s Chill was one of three horses, along with Elite Alex and Jojo’s Mojo, who were supplemented to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $5,000 by the May 1 deadline.

Elite Alex, who had been on the Kentucky Derby trail before finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, currently is at Delaware Park with trainer Tim Ritchey.

Jojo’s Mojo, who was sent to trainer Mike DePaulo with the Queen’s Plate in mind, was beaten a nose in a 1 1/16 mile maiden race here April 23.

A total of 63 horses remained eligible, for the Queen’s Plate as of May 1, down from 109 at the opening Feb. 1 stage. A supplemental entry-day fee of $25,000 is an option for those not nominated.

Say No More won’t try Plate

The Queen’s Plate is not on the radar for Say No More, runner-up in the Queenston under his regular rider, Richard Dos Ramos.

“I thought he ran huge, especially coming back in 13 days”, said trainer Mike Keogh, who had sent out Say No More for a sharp score in a first-level allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs in his seasonal bow.

“He galloped out well, but when he tried a mile and an eighth last fall in the Coronation Futurity he just didn’t get the trip. He’s built like a sprinter.”

Say No More, who won his maiden over one mile on turf in his debut and then finished third over the same course in the 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer, could be returning to that surface for his next start.

That would come on Queen’s Plate Day in the $100,000 Charlie Barley, an open one-mile overnight stakes for 3-year-olds that would require a field of at least five to be carded.

Oh Canada still on trail

Oh Canada, beaten a total of 6 1/2 lengths as the Queenston’s third-place finisher, is scheduled to continue on the road to the Queen’s Plate.

“Obviously, Reade’s horse stands out,” said Bob Tiller, who trains the homebred Oh Canada for Frank DiGiulio. “He’s a very, very, very good horse. I don’t think anybody was going to beat him.”

Tiller, however, found enough to like in Oh Canada’s performance.

“Our game plan is to stretch him out, and we wanted to take him back and let him relax,” said Tiller, who had watched Oh Canada rally from just off the place to capture the six-furlong Woodstock in his seasonal bow.

“Personally, I was very satisfied with his race.”

Plan B works out well for Stunning Stag

Last Sunday’s Grade 3 Vigil Stakes was not trainer Sid Attard’s first choice for Stunning Stag’s seasonal debut.

But when the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Eclipse Stakes failed to fill on Saturday, Attard reentered Stunning Stag in the seven-furlong Vigil and was rewarded with an impressive victory.

“I don’t like to run against my other owners,” said Attard, who trains Stunning Stag for his wife, Janice, and also sent out the Howard Walton-owned Signature Red for a third-place finish.

“They won’t be running against each other again.”

Stunning Stag, who was claimed for $40,000 here in November of 2007, earned $108,000 including an $18,000 Ontario-foaled bonus for his success in the Vigil. The 7-year-old now has won 10 of 27 career starts, finished in the money a total of 21 times, and banked $824,053.

Gerry Olguin, who took over as Stunning Stag’s regular rider late last summer, guided the gelding to the three-length Vigil win, in which Stunning Stag was clocked in 1:22.15.

Stunning Stag was awarded a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, which was the best of his career and the highest to date at the young Woodbine meeting.

“He won first time out last year, at a mile and a sixteenth,” said Attard, who had run Stunning Stag in last May’s Eclipse prep and then watched him finish second in the stakes itself.

“He doesn’t much care whether it’s seven furlongs, or a mile and a sixteenth. Gerry thinks he’s better at seven furlongs.”

Be that as it may, Stunning Stag is scheduled to make his next start in the May 28 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

Signature Red, who has also been effective on turf, will be looking for a sprint on that medium.

Fatal Bullet still working for return

Fatal Bullet, a 6-year-old gelding who was Canada’s horse of the year and champion sprinter of 2008, had been nominated to the Vigil but did not participate.

Instead, Fatal Bullet could make his next start in Saturday’s seven-furlong prep for the Connaught Cup, on the first day of turf racing at the meeting.

On Sunday morning, Fatal Bullet worked five furlongs in 58 seconds under exercise rider Sheena Ryan and got the seal of approval from his trainer, Reade Baker.

“He worked good, and galloped out good,” said Baker, who sent out Fatal Bullet to finish third here in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier in his seasonal debut for Bear Stable.