09/13/2006 11:00PM

Braver the Smarter faces older


Braver the Smarter seeks her second Cup victory in Saturday's $30,000 Coca Cola Cup at Fort Erie. She is the lone 3-year-old in the field of five fillies and mares entered for the 1 1/8-mile race.

Trained by Dan Wills, Braver the Smarter came from off the pace to capture the 6 1/2-furlong Buffalo Cup on Aug. 19 by a widening 3 3/4 lengths. A week later, on less-than-firm turf, she was never in the hunt and beat just one runner in the seven-furlong Fort Erie Cup.

"We're taking a shot in the race because of the conditions," said Wills.

To be eligible for the race, a horse needs three starts at the present meet, one of them at the $10,000 claiming level or lower.

"That eliminates the upper-class horse that hasn't run that low," Wills said.

Wills is unsure whether Braver the Smarter can go the two turns, but he said she "gallops in the mornings like she would go."

Wills added: "She's a blocky little filly that we thought would be great if she grew a little. She never grew from the time she was a 2-year-old, not even an inch. But she's good and tries hard."

A victory in the Coca Cola would give Wills his third Cup victory. Chemistry Class won the Niagara Falls Cup for him Aug. 27.

Maree Richards, who returned to riding this year after an absence of almost 10 years, is back on Braver the Smarter. Their first union together resulted in the Buffalo Cup score.

The biggest obstacle facing Braver the Smarter appears to be Valentine's Mist, who will be ridden by Fort Erie's leading jockey, Rob King Jr.

Valentine's Mist, 5, is a four-time winner, with all of her wins coming around two turns. She owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field, a 79 she earned July 25 when she overhauled recent Centre Stage Anne Cup winner Windinthevalley.

Valentine's Mist was claimed by trainer Raymond Pion on Aug. 26 out of a rallying second to Reputed Deeds. Though beaten by 2 3/4 lengths, Valentine's Mist was six lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.

Reputed Deeds, trained by Erika Winklemann, ran a career best Beyer Figure of 78 in her front-running score and is back to battle Valentine's Mist in the Coca Cola. Corey Clark will ride.

Marden Hill, trained by Brian Ross, should factor prominently in the race. Marden Hills, 4, has 2 wins and 2 seconds from her 4 starts here this year.

Assiniboia Downs: Boys vs. girls

It's the girls against the boys at Assiniboia Downs in the $40,000 J.W. Sifton Stakes, as the eight-horse field is split evenly by gender.

The fillies Hurri Coin, Cat Rush, Miss Doubletrouble, and Simply Marvis face the geldings Callie's Wisdom, Ruark, Canadian Idol, and Deputy Konik in the J.W. Sifton, a 1 1/8-mile race for Manitoba-bred 3-year-olds.

Cat Rush finished second after setting the pace in the restricted one-mile Distaff Stakes here last time out.

Trained by Emile Corbel, Cat Rush won the Debutante in her first lifetime start last season.

Hurri Coin was third last time out in the Distaff, four lengths behind Cat Rush. Three starts ago, Hurri Coin won the restricted one-mile R.C. Anderson Stakes via the disqualification of first-place finisher Dream Extreme.

Trainer Blair Miller will send out both Miss Doubletrouble and Simply Marvis.

Miss Doubletrouble finished third in the R.C. Anderson and seventh in the Distaff.

Simply Marvis was fourth in the R.C. Anderson and won a $7,500 claimer restricted to local sales graduates in her most recent race.

Third behind Ruark and Callie's Wisdom in the restricted one-mile Manitoba Stakes, Canadian Idol might be the horse to beat. Canadian Idol, trained by Lorna Gray, has started three times since the Manitoba. After being a runner-up and then a winner in first-level allowance company, Canadian Idol finished fifth, beaten two lengths, in a tough second-level allowance when he faced older winners for the first time.

Since winning the Manitoba, Ruark was well beaten in the Derby Trial Stakes and then picked up minor awards in three races against first-level allowance company.

Callie's Wisdom defeated maiden special weight company after finishing second in the Manitoba but then was well beaten in three starts in first-level allowances.

Deputy Konick, a maiden who finished last of eight in the Manitoba, rounds out the field.

- Adam Goss