10/28/2004 11:00PM

All Star Lover hopes turf is bit firmer

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ETOBICOKE Ontario - Trainer Peter Berringer will take two stabs at the $146,750 Bunty Lawless Stakes at Woodbine, when he sends out All Star Lover and Chivas in the one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired runners on Sunday.

Wando and Wake at Noon, the last two Canadian Horses of the Year, will clash in Sunday's eighth race, a seven-furlong classified allowance worth $76,100.

After leading through most of the stretch in the 2003 Bunty Lawless, All Star Lover finished second to Tusayan in perhaps his best career performance.

"The turf is what beat him last year," Berringer said. "It was a little bit soft, and he likes it firm to good. He got nailed on the outside by Tusayan. If the turf stays relatively good, I think he'll run a good race on Sunday. He's been running in open company, and I think going back to an Ontario-sired race will help him."

Berringer believes a mile is stretching it a little for All Star Lover.

"Seven-eighths is his deal," he said.

Chivas, who finished ninth in the 2003 Bunty Lawless, has run hot and cold on both surfaces this year.

"He doesn't mind the soft going," Berringer said. "He only got beat about three lengths in this race last year as a 3-year-old after closing fast on the outside. He was just learning how to run then. I haven't been able to get him on the turf since August. He did win on the dirt this year, but he doesn't handle it all that well. He's coming into this race good."

The Laurie Silvera-trained Tusayan is back to defend his title, and will be hoping for some give to the ground. He is winless in seven starts this year, but has competed only on firm turf since his season opener.

Tusayan tried to mount a wide rally last time out, in an $80,000 optional claimer won by a sharp I Thee Wed, but never reached serious contention and wound up sixth. I Thee Wed came back to take the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap.

Trainer Hugo Dittfach entered Millfleet, a late-blooming 3-year-old who captured the restricted Deputy Minister Stakes with ease just 11 days ago.

Millfleet tried the grass twice in June, finishing third in a seven-furlong allowance and eighth in the Charlie Barley Stakes.

"He only got beat a length in his first turf race," Dittfach said. "He looked like he got hurt the second time he ran on the grass, and he did - he shin-bucked real bad."