09/05/2001 12:00AM

2-year-olds steal show


EDMONTON, Alberta - Northlands Park race fans got another view of the future over the Labor Day weekend, as potential 2002 Canadian Derby candidates ran Saturday in the $50,000 Birdcatcher for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Duplicating a feat performed by Fancy As, this year's Canadian Derby winner Dance Me Free pulled off a lucrative double, adding a victory in the Birdcatcher to his Edmonton Juvenile win here Aug. 1.

Under Peter Wong, Dance Me Free went to the front from post 6 and drew clear in the backstretch, stretching his lead to 1 1/2 lengths while setting a comfortable pace.

Dance Me Free, trained by Sid Gray, responded when asked by Wong turning into the lane, stretching his lead to 6 1/4 lengths at the wire. The performance left no doubt as to who is the top 2-year-old at Northlands this year.

After winning the colts-and geldings division of the Yearling Sales Stakes here Aug. 19, Gray had suggested he would ship Dance Me Free to Hastings Park for the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity.

However, the trainer has changed his mind, citing the fact that many young horses don't adapt well to a trip over the Rocky Mountains.

Monday's $50,000 Bird of Pay for 2-year-old fillies was much the same story, as Brass to Diamonds followed her victory in the filly division of the Yearling Sale Stakes on Aug. 19 with another impressive performance.

In her previous start, Brass to Diamonds had crushed the field by more than 11 lengths, but this time she was challenged by Sweet Monarch down the lane before Brass to Diamonds drew clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths.