08/23/2005 11:00PM

'Blade' tops field of six

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SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - When nominations closed for Friday's $6,000 Graceful Klinchit Handicap at Marquis Downs, race manager Rick Fior had to be surprised and delighted with the eight fillies and mares on the list for the 1 1/16-mile affair.

Four locals were nominated, plus a pair from Northlands and one apiece from Hastings and Assiniboia Downs. When the field was drawn on Tuesday morning, both mares from Alberta had opted out, leaving a competitive field of six headlined by Tamorons Blade from Manitoba.

Tamorons Blade won the Distaff, restricted to Manitoba-breds, last fall in Winnipeg and has run against top-notch competition there all summer. Well beaten in two open stakes events this year at Assiniboia, Tamorons Blade finished a very creditable third last time out under allowance conditions after lacking racing room early.

Able to close late or show early speed, Tamorons Blade may be on the engine in what appears to be a paceless affair.

The Hastings invader All About Elsie is a recent $5,000 claim for the Frank Schira stable. Claimed two starts ago when she finished third, All About Elsie jumped up to the $18,000 claiming level and again ran third when going Friday's distance.

A winner of four races in 2004, All About Elsie looks for her second win of this year and should be stalking the early pace.

The local contingent is headlined by Picture the Answer. A daughter of Graceful Klinchit, the mare for whom this race is named, Picture the Answer has won the one-mile Mademoiselle Handicap in each of the last two seasons, including in her latest outing on July 22. Leading jockey Serge Rocheleau will ride.

She's Nifty, winner of this race in 2004, has run second in three consecutive outings versus the top mares on the grounds. Usually a one-run late closer, She's Nifty had to stay closer to the pace in her latest race, a runner-up finish to Celtic Dance, and should be well off the early pace here.

Celtic Dance finished third in the Mademoiselle and then won her first race of the season in the Aug. 5 allowance prep for this race, defeating She's Nifty by 6 1/2 lengths when running a mile in 1:39.20.