Top Canadian Fillies Clash in Duchess

(from Woodbine report)
Three-year-old fillies Lemon Maid and South Bay Cove, both winners of three of four starts in their careers, figure to battle it out in Saturday's $162,150 Duchess Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine.

The pair leads a field of six fillies that line up for the seven-furlong event. Both bring stalking running styles, speedy workout tabs and sparkling resumes that includes two stakes wins and more than $200,000 in career earnings.

The one glaring difference, however, is that all of South Bay Cove's accomplishments occurred in 2004. The Roger Attfield trainee will be making her first start in nearly a year.

After a 12 ½ length romp in the Shady Well Stakes last July, South Bay Cove, a daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus , won the Aug. 22 Ontario Debutante before heading to the sidelines with a hairline fracture.

After weeks of stall rest and hand walking, South Bay Cove joined the stable in February at Payson Park Training Center in South Florida, where she suffered a minor injury prior to a possible start at Keeneland in April that set her back again.

The Windhaven Farm charge was off almost three months before returning to Woodbine, where her first workout occurred on July 6. She hasn't missed a worked since, registering a sharp five-furlong move in :59 flat on Aug. 4.

All four of Lemon Maid's races occurred during her 3-year-old campaign, which began with a maiden victory in February at Fair Grounds.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce shipped the Live Oak Plantation owned-filly to Woodbine where she won the Star Shoot Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion off a two-month layoff.

The bay filly suffered her only defeat in the Selene Stakes against Reade Baker sensation Gold Strike, who went on to win the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and finish third in the Queen's Plate. Lemon Maid quickly returned to her best form with an easy four-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Hill 'N Dale Stakes.

Since then, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  has had seven weeks off. "It was kind of a planned break," explains Pierce. "She had a few races close together. We've been aiming for the (Duchess) since the Hill 'N Dale. We're taking it one race at a time with her."

Lemon Maid, hasn't lost a step, breezing five furlongs in :59 1/5 on Aug. 6.

"She did that quite easily," affirmed Pierce. "Actually, another set of mine were working a half mile and she ended up catching those horses. It wasn't by design, but they all kind of hit the wire together. She's coming into the race in pretty good order."

Tactically, Pierce says the talented filly, who will race without blinkers for her second straight race, can rate behind the speed or go to the front if there's a shortage of early speed.

"I don't like being in the one-hole. I'd rather to be towards the outside where we could watch the speed. Todd (Kabel) knows her well and he'll figure out (a trip) by the time he's out of the chute."

$162,150 Duchess Stakes (Can-III), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs
1/Lemon Maid/Todd Kabel/Malcolm Pierce
2/Higher World/Emile Ramsammy/Mark Casse
3/Silver Impulse/Emma-Jayne Wilson/Stanley Baresich
4/Hatpin/Robert Landry/Mark Frostad
5/South Bay Cove/Jim McAleney/Roger Attfield
6/Roving Angel/Martin Ramirez/Robert Pion