10/20/2004 11:00PM

Championship within sight


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Divisional honors could be on the line Saturday at Woodbine, when Simply Lovely squares off with Dancehall Deelites in the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

Simply Lovely, a two-time stakes winner trained by Bob Tiller, can gain a foothold on the 2-year-old filly Sovereign Award with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile event.

"She's the boss of the Canadian-bred fillies right now," said Tiller, who won the 1999 Princess Elizabeth with Talk Back.

After finishing second in her debut, Simply Lovely captured the seven-furlong Muskoka Stakes, for graduates of local yearling sales. She cut back to six furlongs in the Oct. 6 Victorian Queen Stakes, for Ontario-sired runners, and was a convincing winner under regular rider Steven Bahen.

Simply Lovely is by speed sire Bold Executive, but Tiller is optimistic that she will handle a route of ground, in spite of the unorthodox way in which she is stretching out.

"It's tough on a horse when you're hopping back and forth from seven to six furlongs, and then a mile and a sixteenth," Tiller said. "She passed the first test easy, but now it's a test of a Bold Executive filly going a mile and a sixteenth. She's been acting like she might do it, and I think she has a good chance."

Tiller and Bahen have quickly evolved into a potent combo. Bahen also rode the Tiller-trained Seattle Slew colt Slew's Saga in an impressive victory last Sunday in the Cup and Saucer Stakes.

"We seem to have hit it off pretty good, and he's been riding with a lot of confidence," Tiller said. "A lot of it's been luck - being in the right place at the right time."

Dancehall Deelites, trained by Sid Attard, has an outside shot at the Sovereign. She graduated in her first two-turn attempt, going a mile and

70 yards Sept. 17. Most recently, in the Grade 2 Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes, she was a retreating third behind Sovereign contender Higher World, who is pre-entered in the Grade 1 BC Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star Oct. 30.

Attard has thought highly of Dancehall Deelites since he began training her in the spring.

"She had always worked good," Attard said. "We knew that she wanted to go two turns right away, because of the way she trained. When we worked her five-eighths, she didn't want to stop when she was galloping out."

Eight other Canadian-breds were entered, including Ring City, who failed to respond to rating tactics when she finished eighth in the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine.