06/07/2009 12:00AM

Woodbine Oaks starts quest for tiara

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Michael Burns
Tasty Temptation exercises Friday, getting ready for the Woodbine Oaks, her eighth start.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Tasty Temptation's close proximity to Grade 1 winner Hooh Why in the La Lorgnette Stakes here May 17 points her out as the one to beat in the 54th running of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on Sunday.

The Woodbine Oaks card contains two other stakes, the $150,000 Victoria Park, a nine-furlong event for 3-year-olds, and the $100,000 Alywow, a 6 1/2-furlong turf dash for 3-year-old fillies. Post time for the first of 11 races is 1 p.m. Eastern.

The nine-furlong Oaks is the first leg of the Canadian triple tiara, a series for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies. It will be followed by the $250,000 Bison City Stakes on June 28, and the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes on the grass July 25.

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Tasty Temptation's trainer, Mark Casse, knows how to win the Oaks. He turned the trick with Kimchi in 2006 and with Sealy Hill in 2007. Sealy Hill went on to sweep the tiara.

After running second in her debut in November, Tasty Temptation spent the winter at Santa Anita, where she graduated over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface in her fifth start. She subsequently finished a close fifth after a troubled trip in a first-level allowance at Keeneland.

"She got checked and stopped at Keeneland," Casse recalled. "She never had a clear path at any point."

Most recently, in the La Lorgnette, Tasty Temptation rallied outside from off fast fractions to come up second, a half-length short of favored Hooh Why, winner of the Grade 1 Ashland on April 4. Casse said jockey Patrick Husbands felt he could have won the race had he employed a different approach in the stretch.

"Patrick was really upset after the race," said Casse. "When she started running in the stretch, she ducked in. Instead of shooting towards the rail, he grabbed her and straightened her out, which stopped her momentum."

Casse believes Tasty Temptation has picked up beneficial experience during her seven starts.

"I'm happy where we're at," said Casse. "It's disappointing to lose some races, but in hindsight, this filly has a lot of seasoning. She might need it on Sunday."

Milwaukee Appeal capped her 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie Stakes, and she won her six-furlong Star Shoot Stakes in her season debut.

Milwaukee Appeal chased Hooh Why around in the La Lorgnette, and wound up third after giving that rival a scare in midstretch.

"I was very happy with the way she ran," said trainer Scott Fairlie. "It was super windy that day. We cut back the blinkers on her, and she seemed to lose focus down the lane. I thought she did a little more running than Tasty Temptation, who picked up the pieces very late.

Fairlie noted that both Milwaukee Appeal and Hooh Why "had been running all winter," and that it was Milwaukee Appeal's first 1 1/16-mile race this year.

Fairlie said he is probably going back to half-cup blinkers for the Oaks, and has lured Toronto native Stewart Elliott for the mount.

Shippers Wynning Ride, Miss Blakely, and Academicienne are also in the 13-horse field.

Wynning Ride, based at Santa Anita with trainer Bob Baffert, was second in her final 2-year-old outing, the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, behind Laragh, the runner-up in the 2008 Sovereign Award voting for champion 2-year-old filly.

Wynning Ride has started just once this year, finishing second in an optional claimer May 14 at Hollywood. She worked three-quarters in sizzling 1:11.60 last Sunday at Santa Anita.

"She ran really well last year," said Baffert. "After the Starlet, I gave her some time off. We freshened her up, and I've pointed for this race all along. She's pretty fit. I've been working her steadily."

Miss Blakely, a turf specialist trained by Joe Orseno, took the one-mile Boynton Beach Stakes at Gulfstream in her last start. A daughter of Smart Strike, she has never competed on a synthetic surface.

"She hadn't run against the type of company that she ran against in the Boynton Beach," said Orseno. "Although it was a $50,000 race, it could have been a $150,000 race. It was a very competitive field. When she beat those, we got a little more excited about her, and decided we should start looking to Canada to see what was available."

Academicienne, an allowance winner in France, will be making her first North American start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.