06/30/2004 11:00PM

Canterbury: Vazandar enters sharp


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Fresh off his victory over open company in the Come Summer Stakes last week, Vazandar is part of a two-horse entry that will challenge older rivals in the $40,000 Blair's Cove Stakes for Minnesota-bred colts and geldings.

A 1 1/16-mile turf contest, the Blair's Cove has never been won by a 3-year-old, but Vazandar's sharp performance in the Come Summer suggests he may be up to the task.

Vazandar's trainer, Hugh Robertson, has also entered Sajjan in the Blair's Cove. Though not as accomplished as his entrymate, Sajjan has a pedigree that suggests he will move forward in his first race on grass. He is sired by the With Approval stallion Takur and produced from the outstanding broodmare Unbroken Circle, the dam of Ashar, who goes for his third Blair's Cove victory Saturday. Jockey Iram Diego is named to ride both halves of the entry.

Ashar has demonstrated he is not quite ready to step aside for his younger sibling. He lost his chance for a third consecutive Blair's Cove victory last year when the race was transferred to the main track. He finished fourth, beaten five lengths.

Now Playing was named champion Minnesota turf horse after winning three of four starts on the grass last season, including a victory in the Minnesota Turf Championship. Scott Stevens rides Now Playing.

Bassant won last year's Blair's Cove on the main track, but has shown ability on the grass, finishing third to Now Playing in the Minnesota Turf Championship last year. Seth Martinez will ride Bassant in the Blair's Cove despite winning aboard Vazandar in his last outing.

Also running is Adroitly Superb, who has never been out of the money in six career starts over the Canterbury turf.