09/08/2003 11:00PM

A blinkered Alpha King has upside


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Reade Baker and Scott Fairlie, two of Woodbine's hottest trainers, are well represented in Thursday's Woodbine feature, a $61,600 preliminary allowance race for 3-year-olds and up.

Baker will send out Alpha King in the six-furlong race. Owned by Stronach Stable, Alpha King ran sixth in his debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight race July 26, running greenly while wide over an inside biased track. He displayed a remarkable form reversal with the addition of blinkers Aug. 24, when he graduated on the front end by seven lengths.

Alpha King, a son of Alphabet Soup, figures to encounter a more taxing pace scenario Thursday, but he could be up to the task. Jim McAleney, who rides the bulk of Baker's runners, has the mount.

Fairlie entered Marvin and Irish Wager, who are both unbeaten under his training.

Marvin won his only start, against $40,000 maiden claiming company July 26, for which he received a Beyer Speed Figure of just 72. He has worked on a regular basis in the interim, but appears to have his work cut out for him.

Irish Wager was claimed for $16,000 from a lackluster fifth-place finish June 25. He beat $32,000 non-winners of two types in his first attempt for Fairlie, on July 30, and then earned a 93 Beyer when defeating $40,000 conditioned opponents with ease Aug. 24.

Na Somsanith was named to ride both parts of the Fairlie entry.

Sophia's Prince, a 4-year-old trained by John LeBlanc Jr., will be strongly backed in Thursday's headliner. He showed that he could be competitive with stronger company when he finished third in the 2002 Deputy Minister Stakes, and has run five solid races in five starts this year.

Sophia's Prince won his season opener, in an Ontario-sired allowance race, before finishing a close second in a sloppy-track sprint at this level June 5. He finished second to a sharp Mulligan the Great in the July 2 Overskate Stakes, and then ran third over a speed-favoring track when heavily favored in a July 27 allowance race.

Most recently, in the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton Stakes, Sophia's Prince finished sixth, beaten less than three lengths by some of the best sprinters on the grounds. He drilled a bullet half-mile in 47.20 seconds last week, and should be on edge for another first-rate effort. Regular rider Simon Husbands has the call.