05/16/2002 12:00AM

Canterbury: Brother vs. brother

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Some of the most accomplished Minnesota-bred colts and geldings from the last few seasons square off Saturday in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes, the $35,000 feature at Canterbury Park.

The six-furlong race for statebreds features a former horse of the meet in Bleu Victoriate, a Minnesota Derby and Northern Lights Futurity winner in Now Playing, and a two-time winner of the Minnesota Sprint Championship, Crocrock.

Now Playing, ridden by Dean Kutz, a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame, is the horse to beat. But much attention will be focused on Ashar and Balin, half-brothers who meet for the first time. Both are sons of Unbroken Circle, last year's Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Broodmare of the Year.

Ashar, a 7-year-old Bucksplasher gelding, returned to his best form last season, winning the Blair's Cove Stakes here. Trained by Ted Latour, Ashar's only start this year was a last-place finish in a five-horse field in a Prairie Meadows allowance two weeks ago. Ashar's off-the-pace style may work against him in the 10,000 Lakes, but there is little doubt he will be a factor in statebred stakes this meet.

Balin, a 4-year-old, overcame a troubled trip to win the Victor Myers Jr. Stakes last July. He was subsequently injured and sidelined for the remainder of the year. He also exits a prep race in an allowance at Prairie Meadows, finishing sixth.