09/15/2005 11:00PM

'04 winner eyes second Canadian


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Classic Stamp led a local sweep of the top three spots in last year's Canadian Handicap, defeating a group that included four shippers from south of the border.

On Sunday, Classic Stamp will be looking to defend her title in the Grade 2, $336,000 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race.

The Canadian lured a competitive field of nine, including three U.S. invaders, and Classic Stamp will be looking to end a seven-race drought that dates back to last year's Canadian.

Darwin Banach took over as Classic Stamp's trainer here in mid-July, and Classic Stamp has finished second twice in three outings for him. He is convinced that poor racing luck has played a major role in her losing streak.

"I think she could have easily won four races this year, just with a little different luck happening," said Banach.

Classic Stamp, a 5-year-old owned and bred by Bill Sorokolit, comes into the Canadian off a solid effort in the 1 1/16-mile Canadian prep, where she finished strongly but was beaten a nose by Ambitious Cat.

Emma Wilson, an apprentice and the leading rider at the meeting, rode Classic Stamp for the first time in the prep and retains the mount.

Also returning from the prep is Ambitious Cat, who looks for her third straight win; Black Rock Road, a close third in just her second start of the season; Velvet Snow, beaten just a length for it all while ending fourth; and Mona Rose, who finished sixth and will be making her first start for trainer Steve Attard.

Invaders Shaconage, Natalie Beach, and Spotlight all are capable of making their presence felt.

Shaconage was a convincing winner last time out in the 1 1/16-mile Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf and was successful here in a previous visit, capturing the Ontario Colleen over one mile of turf in 2003.

Natalie Beach last saw action in the July 16 Robert G. Dick Breeders' Cup Handicap, finishing third in that 1 3/8-mile turf race.

Spotlight, trained by Christophe Clement, is coming off a fourth-place finish, beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the even-money choice, in the Grade 3 Matchmaker over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Monmouth on Aug. 3.

Classic Stamp was sixth in the Matchmaker, a half-length behind Spotlight, and Noble Stella ended last of 10 there but beaten a total of 3 3/4 lengths.

Noble Stella had won the Grade 3 Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles on turf here in her previous start, leaving Classic Stamp a length back in second.