04/18/2002 11:00PM

'Brighton' is fastest


CALGARY, Alberta - Brighton Belle, winner of three stakes and runner-up to Little Lolitta as champion 3-year-old filly on the Alberta circuit last year, makes her 2002 debut versus four rivals in a six-furlong allowance at Stampede Park Sunday.

Brighton Belle has not been headed from the gate in her past eight starts, going back to her 2-year-old season, and will prove difficult to catch in this prep for the May 5 M.R. Jenkins Memorial.

Her blazing early foot has carried Brighton Belle to five wins from nine career starts for trainer Rod Heggie and owner-breeder Dr. David Reid. In her 2001 opener, she captured the Mount Royal after running an opening quarter in 22 seconds to open a sizable lead which she never relinquished.

None of her foes here have that kind of early foot, and they face a daunting task over a course that has favored front-runners throughout the early days of this 43-day stand. Ron Blinston takes over for injured rider Chris McGregor on Brighton Belle, and will break the 122-pound highweight from post 2.

Royal Ceremony is coming off a victory against males in which she had the lead at every pole here April 14. Royal Ceremony upset tough older horse Gray Aras at odds of 8-1 under Perry Winters, who retains the call.

With a race under her belt, Royal Ceremony may have a slight edge in conditioning. She figures to make first run at the favorite.

Ray of Magic also has won at this meeting. Jockey Real Simard sat her in third place, behind dueling pacesetters Randi and Milton Road, in an optional claimer, and had plenty of horse under him when he asked for more at the quarter pole.