06/26/2002 11:00PM

Big colt away, eight to play

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A small field seemed probable for the $164,700 Clarendon Stakes for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds Saturday at Woodbine, mainly because of the expected presence of Goldies Legacy, an impressive winner of his lone start.

But when word got out that Goldies Legacy would be a no-show for the 5 1/2-furlong dash because he had popped a puss pocket in his foot, the field size swelled to eight, with only two winners in the lineup.

Lucky Larue, a diminutive son of Barbeau, should be well backed in the race off his front-running triumph second time out in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special here June 2. Lucky Larue was fifth when he debuted on May 5, a race he needed for the experience, according to trainer Wray Lawrence.

"Physically, he didn't need it," Lawrence said, "but mentally, he did. He matured so much after that race. We didn't send him the first time. We were just hoping he'd pick up some pieces and get something out of it, which he did. Last time, we sent him out of the gate."

Lawrence, who purchased Lucky Larue for only $6,000 at a local yearling sale, said he nearly bypassed the Clarendon in favor of the Bull Page, an Ontario sire stakes on July 28.

"He had a bit of a shin problem, but it has settled down," Lawrence said. "That's why he was trying to get in a little in his last race. Everything looks good now, so I thought, why not?"

Rounding out the field of will be Ger, Brighton Ridge, Dance on Home, Frankiefourfingers, Overnight News, I Testify, and Magic Jack.

Ger won his only start with ease in a June 2 maiden special weight sprint at River Downs, earning a Beyer Figure of 64, which is only a point below Lucky Larue's last number.

Ger has been working bullets in recent weeks at Keeneland for trainer Michelle Mullins, who saddled Berry Blvd. to a runner-up placing in the 1997 Clarendon.

Four first-time starters were entered, including Brighton Ridge, a $1 million Keeneland yearling purchase by Eugene and Laura Melnyk.

Brighton Ridge, from the first crop of Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, is out of My Dear Stakes winner Swingin Nickel. He has worked quickly at Belmont for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 1999 Shady Well Stakes here with a debuting Ruby Park, another Melnyk runner.

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