09/11/2002 11:00PM

'Cinquieme' on a roll

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Le Cinquieme Essai, perhaps the leading candidate for the Sovereign Award as this year's champion 3-year-old, heads Saturday's Grade 3, $164,700 Col. R.S. McLaughlin Handicap for 3-year-olds at Woodbine.

Le Cinquieme Essai, based at Fort Erie with trainer Paul Nielsen, is unbeaten in three starts this year. He won his maiden in a romp over Fort Erie's main track in early June, and then came here to take a one-mile allowance on the grass by 5 1/4 lengths.

Le Cinquieme Essai was bet down to 6-1 in the $500,000 Princes of Wales Stakes, the middle leg of the Canadian Triple Crown on July 21 at Fort Erie, which he won while earning his second straight Beyer Figure in the mid 90's.

Nielsen had intended on running Le Cinquieme Essai back on the grass in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Aug. 10 Breeders' Stakes, but the horse got sick.

"He caught a virus which was going around," Nielsen said. "He missed about two weeks of training, but has breezed three times since then. He breezed with two horses the other day, spotting them about four lengths, before finishing with them. They went five-eighths in a minute and change, and then galloped out three-quarters in 1:13 and change. He came back and breezed a slow half in 51, which is what I wanted. He's ready to go."

Nielsen plans on running Le Cinquieme Essai back on the grass, possibly in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Handicap here Oct. 27.

"If everything goes well after this race, I'd like to get him back on the grass," Nielsen said. "I think he's better on turf than dirt. If he were to beat older horses on the grass, then I think he'd have a chance to be champion. The Sky Classic is in the back of my mind, but nothing's etched in stone."

Completing the field for the 1 1/8-mile McLaughlin will be Early Wisdom, Open Concert, Shaws Creek, Center, Mark One, Anglian Prince, and Malmaison.

Anglian Prince, trained by Mort Hardy, was the only 3-year-old to compete in all three Triple Crown races this year. He was a fast-closing second in the Queen's Plate, a lapped-on third in the Prince of Wales, and a well-beaten seventh in the Breeders'.

Owner Leonard Prussky said Anglian Prince is about due for a rest after his hard campaign.

"Win, lose, or draw, this will probably be his last race this year," Prussky said. "I'd like to put him away in good order."

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