08/05/2008 11:00PM

Custody Battle has edge

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A pair of $20,000 Gold Strike Mile Stakes, one for 3-year-old fillies and the other for 3-year-old colts and geldings, spruce up Friday evening's card at Assiniboia Downs.

The Gold Strikes highlight Manitoba-bred horses who are sired by a stallion registered with the Manitoba sire stakes program.

The fillies field drew just five entrants and will go as the third race, while a full field of 10 colts and geldings will do battle in the seventh race.

Custody Battle tops the colts and geldings split, given his 1 3/4-length victory in the six-furlong Frank Arnason Sire Stakes on July 6. He will face the second- through sixth-place finishers from that event Friday.

Custody Battle stalked the pace from fourth that day, assumed command at the top of the lane, and never gave it up when racing under similar provincial-sire restrictions.

A subsequent start against open nonwinners-of-three $15,000 claimers was a different story as Custody Battle faded to be fourth by nine lengths.

Enzec and Spying Eyes ran second and third in the Arnason and rate as spoilers to Custody Battle's bid.

Enzec, making his career debut in the Arnason, made a four-wide bid from eighth place before flattening out and finishing second.

Spying Eyes broke very slowly in the Arnason and spotted the field some 22 lengths. A determined run, however, enabled Spying Eyes to get up for third, and he was just six lengths back at the wire.

Spying Eyes came back nine days later to win a first-level optional claiming race and posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 62, the highest any entrant in this field has received.

The fillies division looks like a two-horse race between Bella Mariella and Meow Wow, the second- and third-place finishers from the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes.

Both fillies recently raced in the R.C. Anderson at Friday's distance, and Bella Mariella finished 6 1/2 lengths ahead of Meow Wow when they were second and fourth.