09/06/2001 11:00PM

In the bag: juvenile champs

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Alberta's version of the World Thoroughbred Championships, the annual Fall Classic Day at Northlands on Sept. 22, invariably settles the season's divisional races.

However, there already seems to be no doubt about the identities of the province's 2-year-old champions.

Trainer Sid Gray clinched the juvenile colt/gelding honors when he sent out Dance Me Free to win his third consecutive stakes.

Bought for $13,500 a year ago at the Alberta CTHS yearling sale, the British Columbia-bred Dance Me Free added last Saturday's Birdcatcher to his wins in the Edmonton Juvenile and the Sale Stake.

Gray had abandoned his plans to send Dance Me Free to the Jack Diamond Futurity in favor of the Birdcatcher and now he is preparing the colt for the Canadian Juvenile here Oct. 13.

Going into the Bird of Pay here last Monday, Sly Lady appeared to have an edge over Brass to Diamonds for the filly laurels. But on the morning of the race, Sly Lady showed up lame and had to be scratched. Subsequent X-rays showed a bone chip on a knee that will require surgery.

Thus, her tentative plans to go against the boys in the Canadian Juvenile also are eliminated and Sly Lady's season ends with an unblemished record of 2 for 2, including the Princess Margaret.

In Sly Lady's absence, Brass to Diamonds won the Bird of Pay for her third straight victory after a season-opening loss. She also won the Sale Stake, for which Sly Lady was ineligible. No matter how she fares in the $40,000 Sturgeon River on Fall Classic Day, Brass to Diamonds should have the division title in the bag.