07/24/2001 11:00PM

Diadella drops from stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Diadella, a close ninth in the July 7 Dance Smartly Handicap, looks best in Friday's Woodbine headliner, a $62,500 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

The conditions of the seven-furlong turf dash - for those who haven't won three races, or two other than - are made to order for Diadella, who won the one-mile Ontario Colleen Handicap as a 3-year-old last summer. She was put away for the winter after running fifth an Oct. 1 stakes at Hawthorne, and was third in an allowance race at Keeneland when she resurfaced April 20.

Diadella had a perfect inside stalking trip June 3 in the 1 1/16-mile Nassau Stakes, but came up flat in the final furlong and finished fourth behind Only to You, Heliotrope (last year's champion turf female), and Bristol Pistol.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce said Diadella wasn't at her best in the Grade 3 Nassau.

"She came back very tired," Pierce said. "I'm not sure whether it was the soft turf, or whether it was from being a little behind from not having much racing under her belt."

Most recently in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly, Diadella raced six lengths off a moderate early pace under David Clark. She began to mount a three-wide rally on the turn, and came down the center of the course with a menacing move in midstretch, but then flattened out in the final furlong and was beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Alexis.

Perhaps the nine-furlong distance of the Dance Smartly was too far for Diadella, who has always been well regarded by Pierce.

"I've always liked this filly," said Pierce. "She's bigger and sharper this year. Maybe she's just getting used to her new frame."

Clark retains the mount on Diadella, a nicely bred daughter of Diesis owned by Stronach Stable.

Facing off against Diadella are Ellzey, Count by Numbers, Bar U Mokwa, Time to Decide, Muhayaa's Crown, Ice Tie, Knight Dancer, and Petal.

Swedespin, an unlucky loser in his last race, should be favored in the supporting feature on the card, an $80,000 claimer for 3-year-olds on the grass.

Swedespin, who hit the board in back-to-back optional claimers at Hialeah in April, encountered serious traffic problems here in a July 6 allowance. He finished three-quarters of a length back of Indian Dan, edging favored Lucky Old Sin for the place.

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