06/01/2009 11:00PM

Woodbine Oaks lures a trio of imports

Email
Bob Coglianese
Miss Blakely comes into the Woodbine Oaks off a win in the Boynton Beach at Gulfstream.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Shippers are the exception rather than the rule for the Woodbine Oaks, the 1 1/8-mile race on Saturday that is the first leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

So it is unusual that the lineup for this year's $500,000 Woodbine Oaks is expected to include no fewer than three invaders from south of the border.

Wynning Ride, based in California with trainer Bob Baffert, and Miss Blakely, who is with trainer Joe Orseno at Santa Anita, were expected to arrive at Woodbine on Thursday. Academicienne, who checked into Belmont from France just last Saturday, is slated to ship to Woodbine on Saturday for new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Wynning Ride finished second, beaten a length, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at 1 1/16 miles when making her last of three appearances as a 2-year-old on Dec. 13. In her only start since then, Wynning Ride ran second in a first-level optional $80,000 claiming race over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on May 14.

"She was a little jarred up after her 2-year-old season," said Baffert. "We gave her a break, then gave her a start with the goal being to prep her for this race.

"We've been pointing to this race for a long time. She couldn't be doing any better right now. We're excited about coming; I'm feeling really good about her."

Baffert's resume includes just four starters at Woodbine, the most recent being the beaten favorite Wanna Runner in the 2006 Queen's Plate.

Regular rider Joe Talamo will be be making his Canadian debut aboard Wynning Ride.

Miss Blakely, who is based at Monmouth Park, showed little when debuting on the dirt at the Meadowlands last fall, but has won three of her five subsequent starts, all on the turf in Florida. In her latest appearance, on April 18, Miss Blakely captured the $50,000 Boynton Beach over one mile at Gulfstream Park.

Orseno said he purposely is shipping in Miss Blakely only a couple of days before the race.

"I've shipped some horses to run on Polytrack or other synthetic surfaces, and I'd go in two weeks early to train over it and breeze over it," he said. "And then they'd run and you find out the same thing: they either like it or you don't. You just don't know until you try.

"That's why we're just going to come up there on Thursday, let her settle in, and jog her once around the track on Saturday."

When he trained for Team Stronach, Orseno saddled Roaring Twenties to finish second to entrymate Touch Dial in the 1999 running of the Woodbine Oaks.

Eibar Coa, who will ride Miss Blakely for the first time, won last year's Prince of Wales aboard Harlem Rocker in his last visit to Canada.

Academicienne is the most exotic of the trio, having made her first five starts on the turf over five different racetracks in France prior to being purchased by NYKY Stable.

"She's a nice, sound, pretty filly," said McLaughlin, whose successful forays here have included Grade 1 victories with Shakespeare in the 2007 Woodbine Mile and Volga in the 2003 E.P. Taylor.

Academicienne has won three races and is coming off a neck tally over seven furlongs of soft going at Maisons-Laffitte in her second outing of 2009 on April 30.

"She was all pre-trained in France," said McLaughlin, who will not be breezing Academicienne prior to the Woodbine Oaks. "She's doing well. I look forward to running her there. She's ready to go."

Alan Garcia, who has here last Saturday to ride Rutherienne to victory in the $300,000 Nassau, is McLaughlin's go-to rider and has the call on Academicienne.

Prior to the Nassau, Garcia's only ride here was a fourth-place finish in the 2007 Queen's Plate aboard Daaher, a subsequent Grade 1 winner who was conditioned by McLaughlin.

Indigo North joins stablemate for Oaks

A field of 15 is expected for the Woodbine Oaks when the ceremonial draw takes place Thursday at the WEGZ Stadium Bar in nearby Vaughan.

The list of probables grew by one on Tuesday with the news that Indigo North would join her stablemate Gore Bay in the lineup.

Indigo North was prominent to the late stages before weakening to finish fourth behind Gore Bay in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race here May 13. That race was her second start. In her debut she finished fourth in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Keeneland six weeks earlier.

"I looked at the Oaks field, and there didn't seem to be much pace in the race," said Eric Coatrieux, who trains the homebreds Indigo North and Gore Bay for Chiefswood Stable.

Tyler Pizarro, who will ride Indigo North in the Woodbine Oaks, was aboard when the filly shipped from her nearby Chiefswood base to work six furlongs in 1:13.40 here last Thursday.

Gore Bay has seen action three times, finishing sixth over one mile of turf at Gulfstream on March 27 and a closing fifth over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on April 18 prior to her recent graduation.

Chantal Sutherland, who rode Gore Bay to her victory, retains the mount for the Woodbine Oaks.

Secret Wish breezes five furlongs

Secret Wish completed her preparations for the Woodbine Oaks with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.20 on the training track here Tuesday morning.

Regular rider Justin Stein was aboard for the drill and retains the mount.

"She went well, and galloped out well," said Jim Day, who trains Secret Wish for Cudney Stable. "If she's not fit now, she's not going to be fit."

Secret Wish won her maiden in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here last December and is coming off a third-place finish in a similar event for fillies and mares here May 18.

Elliott to ride Milwaukee Appeal

Stewart Elliott has picked up the mount on Milwaukee Appeal, who is one of the leading contenders for the Woodbine Oaks off her third-place finish in the open La Lorgnette at 1 1/16 miles here May 17.

Milwaukee Appeal, owned by CEC Farm and trained by Scott Fairlie, had won the open Star Shoot over six furlongs in her only previous start this season and last fall captured the Ontario Lassie over 1 1/16 miles.

Elliott is based at Monmouth Park. Na Somsanith had ridden Milwaukee Appeal in her eight career outings.