Updated on 09/16/2011 7:07AM

Cartier field has familiar look to it


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The first four finishers in the 2001 Jacques Cartier Stakes - Wake at Noon, Exciting Story, Olympian, and Mr. Epperson - will meet again at Woodbine in Sunday's running, worth $132,625.

Wake at Noon earned the highest Beyer Speed Figure (113) in Canada last year after taking the six-furlong Jacques Cartier over a closing Exciting Story. He won just one other race on the year, but was a bang-up second in two graded stakes in the U.S., the True North Handicap at Belmont and the Philadelphia Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

On opening day of this meet, Wake at Noon overhauled Balancethebudget in deep stretch to take the five-furlong Briartic Handicap. Trainer Abraham Katryan was using the Briartic as a tuneup for the Jacques Cartier, and is delighted with Wake at Noon's progress this year.

"I think he's better than ever," Katryan said. "He gained some weight, and is more mature. He was in Florida over the winter, which makes a big difference."

Exciting Story lived up to his moniker during the first half of 2001. After the Jacques Cartier, his first race of the year, he upset Wake at Noon in the seven-furlong Vigil Handicap.

Exciting Story ran the race of his life to capture the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont in May, but he hasn't won since. In his two outings this year, he finished fifth in the Super Stakes at Tampa and sixth in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel.

Trainer Mark Casse said Exciting Story is difficult to train, which he said has contributed to the horse's inconsistency.

"He just isn't a horse who will do what you want him to do all the time," Casse said. "He doesn't want to train some days, and you can never work him with another horse. The older he's gotten, the tougher he's gotten."

Casse said Exciting Story is in great shape.

"I think he's never looked better," Casse said. "[Jockey] Patrick Husbands was pleased with the way he worked the other day. I don't know if he can get up in time going three-quarters, but he needs to start somewhere."

Mr. Epperson, just behind Olympian in fourth in the 2001 Jacques Cartier, went on to win the Sovereign Award as champion sprinter on the strength of his three stakes victories.

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