07/11/2002 12:00AM

'Crypt' should save speed for the finish

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Tails of the Crypt, coming off a subpar effort against older horses in the Dominion Day Handicap, switches to the turf and faces 3-year-olds in Saturday's Grade 3, $163,050 Toronto Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

Kentucky-bred Tails of the Crypt, who ran second in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby in March, was an explosive come-from-behind winner of the Victoria Park Stakes here June 8. In the 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day, Tails of the Crypt surprisingly dueled up front through slow fractions before tiring in the stretch, ending up about eight lengths behind Kentucky invader Bonus Pack in fourth.

Ross said Tails of the Crypt was out of his element running on the lead in the Grade 3 Dominion Day, but he held Jake Barton blameless for the ride.

"I was disappointed with the way the race unfolded," Ross said. "We were stuck with the 1-hole, and there was no pace. Jake was sitting there along the inside [restraining] him as much as he could, but you can only strangle him so much. He was pinned along the rail, and never got a breather. He tried to hang in there from the quarter pole home, and got a little tired."

Ross said he has no qualms about running Tails of the Crypt back on 12 days' rest in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup.

"He came out of that race better than I ever expected him to," Ross said, referring to the Dominion Day. "He was pulling Jake Barton's arms out [Wednesday] morning."

Tails of the Crypt has competed just once on turf, as a 2-year-old, finishing a nose behind First Class Honors in a one-mile maiden race. Ross believes the horse is equally adept on either surface.

"He handled the turf very well when he ran on it," Ross recalled. "He sat just off the pace, and ran down the lane pretty nicely. He was a little green back then, and I think with more seasoning he should run a good race."

Rounding out the field are Portcullis, Funny Soldier, Barbeau Ruckus, El Soprano, and Classic Case.

Portcullis, a Sam-Son Farm homebred, will be an imposing presence if he duplicates his impressive recent victory in the one-mile Charlie Barley Handicap.

Portcullis, like the other Canadian-breds in this lineup, could run back in the Aug. 10 Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

- Bison City Stakes winner Silver Nithi heads Saturday's supporting feature, the $107,000 Wilderness Song, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

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