05/09/2003 12:00AM

The big filly makes her return

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VANCOUVER, B. C. - Elana d'Amour, horse of the year in British Columbia last year, makes her 2003 debut in the $40,000 Strawberry Morn Stakes at Hastings on Sunday.

She will face seven other older fillies and mares in the 6 1/2-furlong race, including sprint stakes winner Lilsisterlightning and Secondary School, who is undefeated after three starts.

Elana d'Amour won five stakes last year, including the Grade 3 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks, and earned over $200,000. She has tactical speed, which is an asset for the just over five-furlong Hastings oval and with speedsters R C Gangster and Lilsisterlightning expected to contest a rapid pace.

Elana d'Amour is trained by Joe Apperloo and will be ridden by Sam Krasner.

Lilsisterlightning used her speed to win seven races last year and became a stakes winner when she beat Castle Mountain by a nose in the Cover Girl Stakes. Lilsisterlightning likes to be in front, but with R C Gangster in the race, Lilsisterlightning's trainer, Toni Jacobson Cloutier, wouldn't mind seeing her sitting just off the pace.

"She doesn't need the lead and I don't want to see her get caught up in a speed duel," she said. "But it is her first start of the year and she's very sharp, so it wouldn't surprise me to see her on the lead."

Anthony Stephen rides Lilsisterlightning.

A fast pace would certainly help the chances of Secondary School and Castle Mountain. Both horses are trained by David Forster and have similar late-running styles.