08/01/2002 12:00AM

Big R one to beat in Dakota Futurity


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Big R will be the one to beat as he faces four rivals at Assiniboia Downs in Saturday's $20,000 North Dakota Stallion Stakes.

The 1 1/16-mile feature is for 3-year-olds eligible through the North Dakota Thoroughbred Association.

Owned and trained by Ralph Buchholz, Big R won the restricted North Dakota Futurity at Assiniboia in his only start as a 2-year-old.

Big R, who has drawn the outside post, finished third in an allowance race in his last start and second in the restricted North Dakota Derby in his previous outing. Jacques DesAutels retains the mount.

Trainer Ardell Sayler, who won the first two editions of the North Dakota Stallion Stakes, will send out Sure Reply and It's Stormin.

First or second in five of six lifetime starts, Sure Reply has won two in a row since running with the addition of Lasix.

The likely speed of the race, Sure Reply will break from post 3 under Rohan Singh.

It's Stormin won his first start as a 2-year-old, but has failed to hit the board in five subsequent appearances. He will begin from post 4 with Ken Hendricks.

Hoist A Coin, trained by Tom Dodds, finished third in the restricted Manitoba Stakes in his latest start, and has one win and three thirds from five lifetime starts. Jerry Pruitt will ride Hoist A Coin, breaking from the rail.

Rounding out the field is Halo Alo, who won his first two lifetime starts last year but has failed to hit the board in eight tries since then.

Trained by Blair Miller, Halo Alo will be ridden by Anderson Ward, beginning from post 2.

* Apprentice rider Larren Delorme won his third and fourth races here Tuesday night, and will hang up his tack until next year in order to keep his 10-pound weight allowance.