06/02/2003 11:00PM

'Cavalier' to begin her year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winner Cavalier Billie will launch her 2003 campaign in Thursday's Woodbine feature, a second-level allowance for fillies and mares on the turf.

Cavalier Billie was an ordinary runner on the main track before she was sent out on the grass in a six-furlong maiden special last June. She graduated with authority at 18-1 that day, yet was let go at 17-1 three weeks later in the Ontario Damsel Stakes.

Cavalier Billie came wide to take the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Damsel by two lengths, winning in a fine field that included Fleet of Foot, Spanish Decree, and Mulrainy. She failed to stay a mile in a subsequent classified allowance, but still finished fourth behind the likes of Strait From Texas and Lush Soldier.

Cavalier Billie has been idle since finishing a close fifth over yielding turf in a six-furlong allowance Oct. 13. Steven Bahen has the mount for trainer Phil Gracey, who also entered Susan Gracey, a 4-year-old filly named after his wife.

Completing the field for the seven-furlong dash are Miss Grindstone, Judging Lady, Dusti's Tune, Blissful Kiss, Agolo, Dance Lessons, Seventh Choice, Number One Cat, Crimson Courtier, and Dancen in the Sun.

Seventh Choice fared very well last year in two turf sprints, graduating in a seven-furlong maiden special and finishing a close third in the Alywow Stakes. In her only start this year, Seventh Choice finished seventh last month in a main-track allowance sprint here.

Agolo, like Seventh Choice, is returning to the turf following a dull effort on the main track. Agolo competed exclusively on the grass last year, winning two of 10 starts and banking $98,910.

Judging Lady, the lone 3-year-old in the lineup, has the same connections as Strait From Texas, who won Sunday's Grade 2 Nassau Stakes. Judging Lady wintered at Tampa Bay Downs, where she captured a one-mile allowance by five lengths in February.

Miss Grindstone should be a speed threat after breaking from the inside. She has won 6 of 11 races, on dirt and turf, including her season opener on the main track.

Dusti's Tune won her maiden going about a 1 1/16 miles at the Fair Grounds in December, but finished up the course last time out in a second-level allowance at Churchill.

Number One Cat, a royally bred daughter of Storm Cat, is trying the grass for the first time.