06/24/2009 11:00PM

Connaught Cup duo meet again


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sterwins and Rahy's Attorney provided a stirring finish in last month's Grade 3 Connaught Cup Stakes. They will clash again going nine furlongs on turf Saturday at Woodbine in the Grade 2, $300,000 King Edward Stakes.

Sterwins had an abbreviated 2008 campaign, during which he won the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland before running second here in the Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes.

Sterwins was a fast-closing second when he came off a long layoff Feb. 20 in an optional claimer on the grass at the Fair Grounds. Following a two-month break, he finished a distant fifth while trying to win the Ben Ali for the second straight year.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce said Sterwins wasn't cranked up for this year's Ben Ali.

"I probably eased up on him a little too much between his first start of the year and that stakes," Pierce said. "Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because he came back and performed well here."

Sterwins rallied stoutly from about six lengths back to take the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup by a head. Pierce said he was impressed with the performance.

"He had to fight hard to get by [Rahy's Attorney] at the end," Pierce said. "He set a track record doing it. He came out of the race in good order, so this is the obvious next step for him."

Rahy's Attorney pulled off a 12-1 upset in last year's Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, leaving Ventura and favored Kip Deville in his wake. He spent the winter in Ontario after ending up ninth in a $2 million race in Japan in November

Following a six-month layoff, Rahy's Attorney set a slow opening quarter and a quick second quarter in the Connaught Cup. He maintained a clear lead through the stretch before being nailed on the wire.

"I was so proud of him," said trainer Ian Black. "You hate to get beat, but for him to be up here all winter and run like that, I was absolutely thrilled. He's so honest. He gives you everything, every time."

Baletti, an improving New York invader trained by Angel Penna Jr., is stepping up after finding the mark in a tough optional claimer on the grass at Belmont.

Marlang, the 2008 Breeders' and Saranac stakes winner, is making his first start since trailing the field in the Grade 1 Canadian International in October.