12/08/2006 12:00AM

Battle of Sovereign candidates


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sovereign Award finalists True Metropolitan and Last Answer will clash at 1 3/4 miles Sunday in Woodbine's closing day feature, the $125,000 Valedictory Stakes. The 13-race card starts at 12:40 p.m.

True Metropolitan is a Sovereign finalist for this year's champion older male horse in Canada. He has won his last five starts, all in stakes, in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

After True Metropolitan won the 1 3/8-mile BC Premier's Handicap in October at Hastings, trainer Terry Jordan shipped him here to trainer Lorne Richards's barn to prepare for the Grade 3 Woodbine Slots Cup at 1 1/16 miles at Nov. 18, which he won by four lengths.

"Our plan was to send him [to Woodbine] three weeks ahead of time so he could get used to the climate and the track," Jordan said. "He'd never been on a Polytrack. He does whatever you want. He can go to the front or come from behind. He's a pretty versatile horse."

Last Answer, second in the 2005 Valedictory, scored a 5 3/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for this year's Valedictory. Before finishing sixth in the Canadian International, he was narrowly beaten in four grass stakes this year: second by a neck in the Singspiel, second by a half-length in the Northern Dancer, second by a neck in the Nijinsky, and third by a head in the Sky Classic. He is a Sovereign finalist for champion male turf horse.

"He's very sharp and happy," said trainer Mike Keogh. "At this time of year, you're never quite sure if they've gone over the top or not. He's grown his winter coat. He's very hairy now, but he had that when he won the prep."

Colorful Judgement finished a distant second in the prep, after rallying from far back. He ran two subpar races early in the fall, in the Sky Classic and in a $50,000 claimer, but then ended his slide with a neck loss in the Chief Bearhart Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on Oct. 28.

"That was a huge turnaround for him," trainer Alec Fehr recalled. "He had a stone in his hind foot, which we were not aware of. We knew there was something funny going on in behind with him, but we couldn't put our fingers on it. It was a great relief when that stone was found. I think it affected him in the $50,000 claimer and in the Sky Classic."

Pellegrino won the Chief Bearhart, but was fourth by 7 1/2 lengths most recently in the Slots Cup. A 7-year-old, Pellegrino has won two 1 1/2-mile turf stakes, most notably the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in 2004.