11/11/2002 1:00AM

Acting Deputy's drive for 5


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Acting Deputy seeks her fifth consecutive win and leaves the claiming ranks in Wednesday's $67,600 Woodbine headliner, a seven-furlong allowance for fillies and mares.

Acting Deputy's streak began at Fort Erie on Sept. 8, when she graduated with ease in her third career outing. She doubled up in a nonwinners-of-two allowance two weeks later, earning an impressive 81 Beyer Speed Figure, an effort that swayed trainer Chris Tuttle to try Woodbine.

Acting Deputy won her local debut, in a key $40,000 conditioned race Oct. 26, and was claimed by trainer Red Johnson, who ran her back for $50,000 last week. Acting Deputy won that seven-furlong dash by two lengths, with a 79 Beyer, and was claimed by trainer Vito Armata.

Armata has won at a remarkable 29 percent rate first time off the claim in the past two years, and has clicked with 19 percent of his starters at this meet.

Leading rider Patrick Husbands inherits the mount on Acting Deputy, who is making her third start in less than three weeks.

Also entered in the race are La Ballerine, Melisma's Valley, No Cheating, Amy's Falcon, Mighty Dixie, and Grassa Donna.

Mighty Dixie, trained by Lorne Richards for K.K. Sangara, got an 80 Beyer in her Sept. 21 win over $32,000 claimers, and has been second in each of her two subsequent races.

Most recently on a speed-favoring track against $40,000 claimers, Mighty Dixie closed from two lengths off a slow pace to finish a neck behind Private Extension in second.

Grassa Donna, a close second in the 2000 La Lorgnette Stakes, has been idle since running third in a May 17 optional claimer. She breezed five-eighths in a bullet 59.60 seconds last week for trainer Abraham Katryan, who is putting the blinkers back on her Wednesday.

Melisma's Valley sprung a 20-1 upset over a sloppy track Oct. 19 in a seven-furlong preliminary allowance, closing from left field to win going away. She has worked well in the interim for trainer Shelley Fitzgerald, who claimed her from a winning effort for $32,000 in August.

La Ballerine hasn't won since she captured a June 3 allowance at her Fort Erie base, but was good enough to finish third in a seven-furlong test for $62,500 claimers here Oct. 25. Trained by Denis Scheffer, she was a fading fourth last time out in a two-turn allowance at the Fort.

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