Gold Strike Favored in Woodbine Oaks

(from Woodbine report)
Harlequin Ranches' Gold Strike has been established as the 9-5 morning line favorite over nine Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly rivals for Sunday's $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

Gold Strike is one of a record five Oaks hopefuls going postward for trainer Reade Baker and is one of three owned outright by Harlequin, which also co-owns another starter, Bosskiri. The dark bay daughter of Smart Strike-Brassy Gold is trying to become the first Manitoba-bred to win the country's premier event for sophomore fillies since the Oaks began in 1956. She's also eligible for the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 26 at Woodbine.

The field's leading money winner with $242,242 has never been worse than second in five career starts, including three wins. She comes into the Oaks fresh from a scintillating score in the 1 1/16-mile Selene Stakes (Can-III) on May 22. She romped home by 5 3/4 lengths over Lemon Maid.

To be ridden by Jim McAleney, seeking his first Oaks victory, Gold Strike will be the third consecutive Selene winner to capture the Oaks, following on the heels of Too Late Now (2003) and Eye of the Sphynx (2004). Both went on to earn Sovereign Awards as divisional champions.

Trainer Baker also has the second choice in undefeated Bosskiri, co-owned by Harlequin Ranches, Park Stud and D. Morgan Firestone. The brilliant daughter of Kiridashi is a perfect four-for-four in her brief career, including two stakes. She has won every start by three lengths or more.

The Ontario-bred won the Lady Angela May 28 by a comfortable 3 3/4 lengths. While she's never raced further than seven furlongs, she has banked $229,410. McAleney has been named (at entry time) to ride Bosskiri as well but has already stated he'll be aboard Gold Strike.

About his five entrants, Baker added, "They're all healthy and strong and eligible for the race. This is the one we want to win."

Baker, trying to win his first Oaks, also sends out Ormonde Stable's River Nore, winner of the seven furlong Fury Stakes on May 8. The Ontario homebred daughter of 1998 Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay will be ridden by four-time Sovereign Award recipient Patrick Husbands, seeking his first Oaks win as well.

Rounding out the Baker quintet are Harlequin's Pirouetting and Whiskey and Low, each a winner once in their careers to date.

An intriguing candidate is Bill Sorokolit's Ontario homebred Ready and Alluring a chestnut daughter of More Than Ready  who will try to become the first filly to win the Oaks in only her third career start.

Trained by New York-based Randy Schulhofer, Ready and Alluring most recently blew away a field at Belmont Park, May 11, breaking her maiden by 16 1/2-lengths in a 1 1/16-mile affair. Jockey Javier Castellano makes his Woodbine debut.

All fillies carry 121 pounds, with the winner to receive $300,000.

$500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks Stakes (Race 8, 4:38 p.m.), 3-year-old Canadian-bred fillies, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Archie's Gal (ON), Steven R. Bahen
2. Silver Impulse (ON), David Clark
3. Dancehall Deelites (ON), Todd Kabel
4. Bosskiri (ON), James McAleney
5. Ready and Alluring (ON), Javier Castellano
6. Gold Strike (MB), James McAleney
7. River Nore (ON), Patrick Husbands
8. Whiskey and Low (ON), Patrick Husbands
9. Victorious Ami (ON), Emile Ramsammy
10. Pirouetting (ON), Dino Luciani