11/17/2004 12:00AM

Big Cheque due for big effort


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The aptly named Big Cheque should be favored to take the winner's share of the $67,900 purse in Friday's Woodbine feature, a $100,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

Big Cheque, a stocky chestnut trained by Abraham Katryan for Bruno Schickedanz, won 5 of 7 starts in 2003, but is winless in seven outings this year. She commenced her current campaign at Gulfstream, where she finished fourth in a pair of $100,000 optional claimers late in the winter.

Big Cheque earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 90 while finishing a close second over a sloppy track here in an allowance on May 24. She subsequently ran fourth behind Winter Garden in both the Sweet Briar Too Stakes and a classified allowance, before winding up second against $80,000 opponents on Sept. 16.

Big Cheque earned her first back type most recently when third in the Ontario Fashion Handicap. She dueled up front in the two-path over an inside-biased track in that six-furlong sprint, and weakened in the final sixteenth to finish 2 1/2 lengths back of Winter Garden.

Whistling Maid, a fading sixth in the Ontario Fashion, figures to lead the way in Friday's six-furlong headliner. Trained by Glenn Magnusson, she is winless in 18 starts over the past two years, but managed to grind out $123,282 in earnings during that period.

Whistling Maid, who was second on the grass in the June 20 Zadracarta Stakes, is equally adept on either surface. A three-wide trip on a fast pace led to her downfall in the Nov. 6 Ontario Fashion, in which she was beaten about seven lengths.

Expected Song got a career-high 90 Beyer when she rode a speed bias to a three-length score over Big Cheque on Sept. 16, which was her third win from seven starts this year. She also defeated $80,000 opposition going six furlongs in June.

Expected Song got hung out three wide in a pace battle last time, and weakened in the final furlong to end up fifth. She was claimed for $75,000 by California Stable and trainer Bobby Lane, and will run with a $95,000 tag on Friday.

Sweet Problem, victorious in the Alywow Stakes in June, will compete with a $100,000 tag. She also finished third in the Grade 2 Selene Stakes in May, but was far up the turf course when returning from a freshening in a Sept. 24 allowance.

Alpha Heat, the 2003 Zadracarta winner, is donning blinkers for just her third start of the year.