Gold Strike, bred and owned by Harlequin Ranches, drew off in the stretch to take Sunday's $280,400 Selene Stakes (Can-III) for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine in impressive fashion. After finishing second to Lemon Maid in the Star Shoot Stakes on April 24, Gold Strike was able to turn the tables on her rival in the 1 1/16-mile feature, turning a virtual match race into no match at all. Gold Strike, last year's champion 2-year-old filly in Manitoba, and Lemon Maid hooked up on the front end from the outset of the two-turn event, leaving their rivals to play catch up after a brisk opening quarter-mile in :22.87 and a half in :46.89. Around the final turn, the daughter of Smart Strike, with Jim McAleney in the irons, continued to hound the Live Oak Plantation's previously undefeated Lemon Maid, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Lemon Drop Kid testing two turns for the first time.At the wire, Gold Strike, who was recently supplemented to the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks June 12 at Woodbine, was 5 3/4 lengths in front, capturing her first Toronto oval added-money affair and third of her career.The running time for the winner of last year's Buffalo and Debutante Stakes at Assiniboia Downs (Manitoba), was 1:45.80 over a fast main track."It worked out, but it was by no means my intention to be up close," said McAleney, who captured his second Selene crown, after guiding Dactylic to victory in 1992. "I thought there was enough speed in the race that a good stalking trip would be effective." While the race didn't unfold as expected, the end result was a pleasing one for conditioner Reade Baker, whose horses have been in top form early in the 167-day Woodbine meet.
"I wasn't worried about it," said Baker, in reference to the quick early tempo. "We had the horse we wanted (Lemon Maid) to the inside of us. We didn't want to let her get away. We were hoping somebody else would do the job for us, but nobody volunteered."The victory, worth $162,900, boosts Gold Strike's lifetime bankroll to $242,242 with three wins and two seconds from five starts.She could also have a date in the Queen's Plate June 26 after her connections recently supplemented the dark bay.Gold Strike paid $12.00, $3.70 and $3.30, combining with Lemon Maid ($2.40 and $2.10) for a $25 exacta. Charming Ruckus ($3.50) rounded out a $101 trifecta.(Chart, Equibase)