09/14/2006 11:00PM

Cold War is meet's hot horse

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Cold War, a winner of his last four races, will be trying for his eighth triumph of the year in Sunday's 1 1/8-mile St. Catharines Cup at Fort Erie.

Cold War, owned and trained by Vern Fernandes, is the most accomplished runner at the meet, having won 5 of 9 starts. He's also 2 for 2 at Woodbine.

Six runners will face Cold War in the $30,000 Cup race, which will be run as a $10,000 starter allowance. The stiffest resistance to Cold War is expected to come from Toneless, trained by Armand Concessi, and Majestic Deputy, owned and trained by John Sanelli.

Toneless is the last runner to have defeated Cold War. In a starter allowance here July 17, Toneless overhauled the front-running Cold War in midstretch and registered a 3 3/4-length win. Cold War faded to fourth, 7 1/4 lengths behind. Toneless earned the meet's highest Beyer Speed Figure, a 97, for the win.

On Aug. 13, in the Peace Bridge Cup, Cold War notched the second victory of his streak. Toneless finished second, 1 3/4 lengths behind.

Toneless followed that effort with a second in an allowance at Woodbine on Aug. 25. In his last start, the Puss n Boots here Sept. 4, Toneless faltered and faded to fifth after leading the field to the stretch.

Concessi blamed the poor performance on the fast fractions.

"[Toneless] can't take that kind of pace - 46 for the half and 1:10 for three-quarters," he said. "He likes to sit off of it a little more than that. He really wants to run at something."

It was the first time Rob King Jr., the Fort's leading rider, was aboard Toneless. He will be back in the saddle again on Sunday.

"My horse is in very good shape and King knows him a little better this time," said Concessi.

Majestic Deputy looms as a serious threat. Twice with Mike Quong at the reins he has finished a rallying second to Cold War.

On July 25, at a mile and 70 yards, Majestic Deputy's rally was a neck short. On Sept. 5, at 1 1/16 miles, he fell short by one length. Perhaps the extra distance on Sunday will aid Majestic Deputy.

Monique Dionne, who rides Cold War, said she does not think the longer race will make Cold War more vulnerable.

"He loves to run," said Dionne. "And when he hears horses coming he digs in and reaches for more. He's one of the nicest horses I've ever been on. He gives his all."

Dionne is enjoying her best year since her apprentice year of 2001. A win in the St. Catharines would be her fourth in the Cup series.