08/23/2007 12:00AM

Awesome Action back in form

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A sharp Awesome Action will try to win his first graded stakes Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King, an important prep for the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. The seven-furlong turf sprint has also lured last year's winner, Le Cinquieme Essai, and Canada's champion 2-year-old of last year, Leonnatus Anteas.

Trained by Sue Leslie, Awesome Action was winless in eight starts in 2006, but has been rejuvenated this year at age 7. He came from mid-pack to finish second in his season opener, in a $100,000 optional claimer on June 2.

Awesome Action polished off a solid field most recently when he won the restricted Ontario Jockey Club Stakes for the second time on July 21. The runner-up, Sterwins, returned to take the With Approval Stakes.

Jockey Robert Landry raved about Awesome Action's performance in the seven-furlong Ontario Jockey Club, and said the gelding has come full circle this year.

"I think it was one of his best races ever," said Landry.

Landry said that when Awesome Action won the 2005 OJC, "he ran a pretty good race, but I thought he ran much better this time."

"He wasn't on top of his game last year," Landry said. "He never trained that well, but Sue has him in good order this year. Hopefully, he can make a little more money."

Le Cinquieme Essai edged Becrux for the victory in last year's Play the King before going to the sidelines with a suspensory problem. When he returned from an extended break in the Ontario Jockey Club, Le Cinquieme Essai pressed a fast pace under Steven Bahen before fading to third.

"He got a little tired on end, which we kind of figured would happen, because he was coming off an 11-month layoff," said trainer Paul Nielsen. "They ran a little quicker than I thought they would. Steve said to me that it was the first time he'd felt that he ever got tired on him. Hopefully, we can go forward off of it. He's done well since that race. He's had a couple of breezes. He's ready to go."

Leonnatus Anteas endured his first loss when he was narrowly beaten in his seasonal bow, and was subsequently scratched from the June 24 Queen's Plate because of an infected pastern. He is coming off a decisive win over older opponents in a seven-furlong optional claimer on the grass, for which he got a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

"Off his last race, I think he deserves a shot," said trainer Kevin Attard. "I'm extremely pleased with the way he's been training."

Purim has shipped in from Illinois for trainer Tom Proctor and will be making his first start since having throat surgery.