08/04/2003 12:00AM

Another grass try for 'Knotty'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Barb Minshall had several solid prospects for Wednesday's $136,500 Vice Regent Stakes at Woodbine, including stakes winners Battlements and Snake Pit, but she ultimately decided to go with third-stringer Knotty Behaviour in the one-mile grass event.

Knotty Behaviour struggled over the dirt before Minshall put him on the grass in a tough maiden special June 19, in which he finished fourth behind Puffer and Go North going 1 1/16 miles.

"I thought he'd like the turf," Minshall recalled. "I liked his action on it, and he has a lot of turf in his female family. I thought he ran really well the day he was fourth. It was a good field. He got into a little trouble, and I thought he could have won the race."

Knotty Behaviour promptly won his maiden on July 12, his most recent start, going seven furlongs, over Ontario-sired opposition, closing from three lengths back to win going away over a course rated good.

Minshall said she is content with Knotty Behaviour's status heading into the Vice Regent. "He's been training really well, and I think he'll suit the company that he's meeting," she said.

Ray Sabourin retains the mount on Knotty Behavior, a son of millionaire Kiridashi, who was also trained by Minshall.

Nine other Ontario-sired 3-year-olds were entered: Executive Legacy, El Gran Maestro, Mystic Dash, Penthouse Prince, Tusayan, Into the Dawn, Button Wood, Chivas, and Cibo.

Tusayan, victorious over soft ground June 4 Bold Ruckus Stakes, should be favored. He beat future stakes winners Dressed for Action and Battlements in the six-furlong Bold Ruckus, and subsequently ran fourth behind Moonshine Hall, Strizzi, and Silver Tree in the one-mile Charlie Barley Handicap. Silver Tree went on to capture the Virginia Derby.

Tusayan was favored his last time out in a one-mile allowance, but could manage only a sixth-place finish after stalking the pace in his first try with Lasix. Trainer Laurie Silvera was mystified by Tusayan's lackluster effort.

"I was disappointed," Silvera said. "I can't put my finger on it, why he didn't kick on when asked. He was well positioned."

Button Wood is debuting on the grass, with a pedigree better suited for the main track. He won two consecutive allowance races heading into the June 22 Queen's Plate, in which he was beaten a pole by Wando.

El Gran Maestro, who also finished up the track in the Plate, was recently third against older opponents in a turf allowance.