09/16/2003 11:00PM

Cassopolis can build off stakes win

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Ann Arbor Stakes winner Cassopolis heads a field of seven Michigan-bred 3-year-old fillies in Friday's $45,000 Michigan Oaks at Great Lakes Downs.

Cassopolis, claimed in May for $8,000, had been competitive all meet before her breakthrough stakes win in the Aug. 8 Ann Arbor, which she won by nearly 10 lengths. Randy Russell, second in the standings here, trains Cassopolis for Margaret Sullivan. Luis Martinez has the mount for the 1 1/16-mile Michigan Oaks.

Stakes winners Magna Cum Laude and Cantouchis, both trained by Dave Kueffner, finished second and third behind Cassopolis in the Ann Arbor and will return for the Oaks. Rose of Edmore and Clever Moon also return from the Ann Arbor. Sailing Sal, a Michigan Sire Stakes winner last year, will try her first stakes race of the season. Ittybittygritty, a winner of 2 of 3 starts, is a newcomer to stakes competition.

The Mackinac Handicap on Saturday is headlined by Akatsakat, the 3-year-old who upset Secret Romeo in the recent Frontier Handicap. Monday and Tuesday will also have a stakes race, a rarity on those days. Juveniles take center stage on both days, with the Sickles Image on Monday and the Patrick Wood the following evening. Zosia's Genius is expected for the Sickles Image after a sharp four-furlong workout of 49.40 seconds on Sept. 16. Heza Mountain Man, the top juvenile based here, worked on the same day, breezing five furlongs in 1:04 in preparation for the Patrick Wood.