08/23/2001 11:00PM

Cool, crisp - rich - days of fall


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - September arrives next Saturday, and with it will come a slew of stakes to be run here over the holiday weekend.

The biggest of the bunch is Saturday's $300,000 Niagara Breeders' Cup, a Grade 3 handicap over 1 1/2 miles of turf that serves as the final local prep for the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sept. 30. The $95,000 Flaming Page Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for fillies and mares, is Saturday's supporting feature.

Next Sunday's headliner is the $100,000 Seaway, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares in which the undefeated 3-year-old Meadow Gem is scheduled to face older rivals for the first time. The supporting feature is the $86,400 Silver Deputy, a 6 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

But Monday, Labor Day, is when the stakes flood reaches its crest. There will be six $100,000 yearling sales stakes, restricted to Canadian-breds who were sold as yearlings at auctions conducted by Canadian Breeders' Sales or Woodbine Sales.

The Halton, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, and the Simcoe, at seven furlongs for 2-year-old colts and geldings, are shaping up as the best races on the program.

The Halton is expected to feature a rematch between the 5-year-old mare Bristol Pistol and the 5-year-old gelding Steady Ruckus, who finished one-two in last year's renewal.

Bristol Pistol, trained by Mac Benson for the Augustin Stable of George Strawbridge, is coming off a third-place finish over 1 1/16 miles of turf in the Victoriana while Steady Ruckus scored impressively in a one-mile allowance race Aug. 16 for owner Ed Lang and trainer Gil Rowntree.

Both, however, might have to contend with Sweetest Thing, the 3-year-old filly who defeated males last time over 1 1/2 miles of grass in the Breeders' Stakes for her trainer and co-owner, Roger Attfield, and partners Mickey Canino and Bill Werner.

Go Figure, fourth in the Breeders' for owner D. Morgan Firestone and trainer Cliff Hopmans, also is Halton-bound.

Expected headliners for the Simcoe include Rare Friends and Shaws Creek, the one-two finishers in the six-furlong Vandal Aug. 19, and Molly's Wisdom, winner of the six-furlong Bull Page here July 29.

Cool N Collective recovering

Cool N Collective, who won the Elgin on last year's yearling sales stakes card, had been expected back for this year's Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, but was not among the nominees.

"He's recovering from his Kentucky campaign," said Reade Baker, who trains Cool N Collective for Earle Mack. "He's galloping now; I might have him ready to run late next month."

Cool N Collective, who followed his Elgin victory with a second-place finish to subsequent Canadian 3-year-old champion Kiss a Native in the Grade 2 Pegasus at the Meadowlands, started four times for trainer Steve Asmussen this year before being sent back to Baker earlier this summer.

Catahoula Parish, runner-up in last year's Elgin for Ross and Jam Jar, was nominated to the 2001 renewal but will not be participating.

"He's gone to the farm," said Ross of Catahoula Parish, who has earned $452,273. "There's nothing really wrong. He just needed some time. He's been good to us."

Prince of Style, third in the 2000 Elgin, worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 on the fast main track here Friday and is expected in the race.

Owned by Bill Diamant and trained by Grant Pearce, the 4-year-old Prince of Style became a stakes winner in last year's Sir Barton and has finished second in three of his four starts this season.

Dawn Watcher, who finished fourth behind Prince of Style in their last encounter, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 Friday morning and is slated to contest the Elgin for owner Firestone and trainer Hopmans.

The other yearling sales stakes are the Muskoka, at seven furlongs for 2-year-old fillies; the Algoma, at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, 3 and up; and the Kenora, at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and upward.