05/22/2003 11:00PM

Acting Deputy has class edge

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winner Acting Deputy fits nicely in Sunday's seventh race at Woodbine, a seven-furlong starter allowance for fillies and mares who have run for a $32,000 tag or less since the beginning of last year.

Acting Deputy, a 4-year-old by Silver Deputy, graduated for just $20,000 last September at Fort Erie. She also won each of her next four starts, and was claimed on two occasions, for $45,000 and $35,000.

Trainer Vito Armata took Acting Deputy for $45,000 on Nov. 7, and she captured a second-level allowance just six days later. She ended her 2002 campaign with a narrow loss to entrymate Rich Assertion in an $80,000 optional claimer.

Acting Deputy reappeared on March 23 in the five-furlong La Voyageuse Handicap. Dismissed at 10-1, she stalked front-running Dreams Go Bye throughout and blew by her in the final sixteenth to win by daylight.

Acting Deputy regressed three weeks later in the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes, in which she pressed the early pace before fading to finish 10 lengths behind. She raced up front last time out in the allowance prep for the Hendrie Handicap, and finished just two lengths back of El Prado Essence in third.

Todd Kabel will ride Acting Deputy, the 124-pound highweight in the nine-horse field.

Melisma's Valley could be the main threat to Acting Deputy. Claimed for a bargain $32,000 by trainer Shelley Fitzgerald and owner Carlo D'Amato last August, she finished second to Acting Deputy on Nov. 13, after winning a seven-furlong preliminary allowance in the slop on Oct. 19.

Melisma's Valley spent the winter in Maryland, and was fourth in an optional claimer at Laurel March 6. She gave favored Winning Chance a run for her money when second in a second-level allowance here April 11, but is coming off a sub-par showing at that condition. Greg Hutton retains the mount.

Sunday's feature, on a rare weekend card without a stakes, is an $80,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares, scheduled for six furlongs on the grass.

Among those entered is Picture Palace, who was scratched from a longer race that was taken off the grass last weekend. She won her final two outings in 2002, both over yielding turf in allowance company.

A well-traveled 5-year-old owned by Pin Oak Stable, Picture Palace has worked on a regular basis this spring for David Bell, a capable layoff trainer. Emile Ramsammy has the call.

There are also two entry-level allowances on the 10-race race, one for 3-year-old fillies, and the other for Ontario-sired runners.