11/12/2003 12:00AM

Campo Lago takes softer route


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Campo Lago and He Rules, who are both nominated to Saturday's Display Stakes, will run instead in Friday's Woodbine headliner, a 1 1/16-mile allowance for 2-year-olds.

Campo Lago, a son of Grade 1-winning turf specialist Military, has run well in all three of his main-track starts. After flopping on the grass in his debut, he finished third behind Display contender Smoocher in a seven-furlong maiden special Aug. 31.

Campo Lago then won his maiden by four lengths in the slop, with an excellent Beyer Figure of 85 in a 1 1/16-mile race Sept. 27. He was favored in a subsequent allowance, but finished third behind A Bit O' Gold, who won the Coronation Futurity in his next start.

Most recently, in a one-mile grass allowance, Campo Lago stalked the early leaders, pressed them on the turn, and ended up second after holding the lead for most of the stretch.

Jockey Todd Kabel has the return call from trainer Joe Walls on Campo Lago, who is owned by Shelter Valley Farm and Carol Walls.

In his lone start, He Rules overcame a tardy break at seven furlongs to defeat $32,000 maidens by nearly four lengths on Oct. 15. A son of Defrere and a Cryptoclearance mare, he has a mixture of speed and stamina in his pedigree, and his trainer, Norm McKnight, has been winning at a 12 percent clip with his sprint-to-route runners. David Clark has the mount.

Also entered in Friday's feature are Dashing Monty, Choice Union, Strike Em Hard, Meadow Fun, and Cool Ruler.

Choice Union graduated in a five-furlong maiden special two starts back at Fort Erie, and was recently a well-beaten fourth here in a tough six-furlong allowance. A John Franks homebred, Choice Union is from the first crop of Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap winner Precocity. His half-sister Blissful Kiss won the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl Stakes at Calder in the fall of her juvenile campaign.

Cool Ruler could be a factor Friday in his first start beyond a mile, the distance at which he ran fourth behind Campo Lago on the grass Nov. 1. He possesses a distance pedigree, and was a romping winner in a $50,000 maiden claimer on the dirt on Oct. 4.

Strike Em Hard, a distant fourth in Campo Lago's maiden win, is coming off a gutsy win in a seven-furlong $50,000 maiden race.

Meadow Fun is stretching out for the first time, and has the pedigree of a sprinter.