07/01/2002 11:00PM

Canterbury: Wide-open stakes

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Bettors looking for a single in Thursday's $50,000-guaranteed pick six won't get much help in the $35,000-added Blair's Cove Stakes.

Among the field of eight Minnesota-breds in the Blair's Cove, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, are two previous winners of the stakes, Ashar and Bleu Victoriate.

Ashar rallied wide to beat Bleu Victoriate by a length in last year's running of the Blair's Cove. In 2000, Bleu Victoriate won the Blair's Cove and was named Canterbury's horse of the meet.

Ashar, Bleu Victoriate, and last year's statebred champion 3-year-old, Now Playing, all ran in the Brooks Fields Handicap 2 1/2 weeks ago. The key to determining who wins the Blair's Cove might lay in the result of that race.

Now Playing finished eighth in the Brooks Fields after making the pace, and is eligible to improve in his second start over the turf. Joel Campbell has the mount.

Ashar closed fast to finish second in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes in May, but never got involved in the Brooks Fields, finishing seventh. Leading rider Derek Bell takes the mount on Ashar. Bell was aboard for all three of Ashar's grass victories last year.

Bleu Victoriate was bumped at the start of the Brooks Fields and finished sixth. Seth Martinez will take the mount in the Blair's Cove.

A possible longshot winner is Dr. Brick, a Strike the Gold half-brother to Bleu Victoriate. Mark Irving takes the call.