06/06/2002 11:00PM

Banging heads with best

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nick DeToro certainly appreciates owning and training a mare of the quality of Cafe Dancer. But there's also a certain amount of frustration involved, because Cafe Dancer can't quite make the grade in the top races, but there aren't many other places to run her.

That's why Cafe Dancer will be going in Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron, where she will be a relative outsider in a field of six.

"She's on her game," said DeToro. "She's feeling good, and training good. But she's very lightly raced."

DeToro had hoped to start Cafe Dancer, who will be making just her second appearance of the year, in a seven-furlong money allowance here Saturday, only to see that race die on the vine with just two entries.

"She's a good allowance mare," said DeToro, who has 14 horses here. "But she's out of conditions. She can only go in these stakes races now, and hope for a piece of the purse."

Cafe Dancer does have a stakes win on her resume, as in 2000 she captured the Harry A. Hindmarsh here, a race restricted to graduates of the local 2-year-olds in training or open yearling sales.

"I bought her as a weanling for $4,500 in Florida," said DeToro, "and put her through that [2-year-old] sale, hoping to get $20,000 for her. I took her back for $17,000."

Now 6 years old, Cafe Dancer comes into the Matron with earnings of $315,830 and seven wins, five seconds, and eight thirds from 31 career starts.

But she was blanked in nine appearances last year, although she did finish second to eventual divisional champion Mountain Angel and to former champion Catch the Ring (who is the Matron favorite) in optional claiming races. And she narrowly missed defending her title in the Hindmarsh, which was her last start of the year.

Cafe Dancer opened her current campaign with a rallying third-place finish in a money allowance at six furlongs, a distance shorter than she prefers.

"From seven furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth she clicks in real good," said DeToro. "She has time to run at horses, and she likes running at horses.

DeToro said he's pleased that Cafe Dancer gets in to Sunday's race at 111 pounds. She will be ridden by Dino Luciani, who, De Toro said, can ride as light as 112 pounds.

Madame Red bought by WinStar

Madame Red, who would have been a leading contender in the Matron, has headed south after being purchased this week by the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt.

Previously owned by the Norseman Racing Stable of Howard Walton and trained by Bob Tiller, Madame Red has won six of 13 starts and finished in the money 10 times, and has earned $317,401.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Forest Wildcat and the Sirlad mare Sirlass, Madame Red won the listed La Lorgnette Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here last fall and finished third in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf at 1 1/4 miles.

The purchase price has not been disclosed.

Husbands gets Plate mount

Wolverine, fourth in last Saturday's Plate Trial, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands in the June 23 Queen's Plate.

"Patrick's a very physical rider," said Reade Baker, who trains Wolverine and is a co-owner along with Derek Cornelius. "I think he'll fit the horse well."

Husbands, leading rider at the Woodbine meeting and winner of the Sovereign Award as Canada's outstanding jockey the past three years, has been blanked in five previous Plate appearances.

Quiet Resolve to return

Quiet Resolve, smashing winner of the Grade 3 Connaught Cup over 1 1/16 miles of turf here May 25, has been assigned 120 pounds and is the probable starting highweight for next Sunday's King Edward Breeders' Cup.

The King Edward, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000, including $100,000 from the Breeders' Cup Fund.

A 7-year-old gelding owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, Quiet Resolve won the King Edward last year after finishing second in 2000.

Saturday's feature, the five-furlong Victoria, will be the first 2-year-old stakes of the meeting.

Club to honor track's best

Sunday brings the 40th annual awards day of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, which will be recognizing Woodbine's top performers of 2001.

American in Paris, a 5-year-old mare owned and trained by Audre Cappuccitti, will be the recipient of the club's signature claiming horse of the year award.

Others to be honored include trainer Bob Tiller, jockey Todd Kabel, apprentice jockey Chantal Sutherland, and owner Sam-Son Farm.

* Jake Barton has been fined $300 by the stewards, who ruled the jockey had hit his mount White Springs, "in restricted areas (head and flanks)" during the fourth race here May 31. White Springs finished second, beaten a head.

* Emile Ramsammy has been fined $100 for failing to claim foul following the third race last Sunday. The jockey was aboard Tryityoulllikeit, who was bumped at the quarter pole and finished last in the field of seven. Ramsammy has appealed a ruling issued earlier this week in which the stewards fined him $500 for an alleged whip infraction.