09/29/2004 11:00PM

Dress rehearsal

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Strut the Stage, winning the Niagara BC 'Cap, may run in the Canadian International or BC Turf.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Strut the Stage will prep for the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International or the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf on Saturday at Woodbine in the Grade 2, $275,250 Sky Classic Handicap, a race he won in 2002.

Strut the Stage was fourth as the heavy favorite in the 2003 Sky Classic, after which he was sidelined with a leg injury.

"He had a stress fracture in his back tibia," Frostad said. "He had the same thing in his other leg the year before. When you get one of those, you're off for a long time, and that's why it took so long to get him back this year. He's good right now, and hopefully he'll stay that way."

Strut the Stage finished third in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes on July 25, when he returned from a 10-month sabbatical. In his only interim outing, he captured the Grade 2 Niagara BC Handicap, earning a 104 Beyer Figure.

Frostad said he hopes to run Strut the Stage back here Oct. 24, in the $1.5 million Canadian International, or in the $2 million BC Turf at Lone Star Oct. 30.

"We'll have to see what the turf is like here," Frostad said. "If it's fast, we'd be inclined to stay here, and if it's soft, we'll probably go south. He's run well on soft turf - he was second in the [2001] Secretariat Stakes on a bottomless course - but softer turf really plays into the hands of the Europeans."

Frostad also entered three other Sam-Son Farm runners in the Sky Classic, a 1 3/8-mile turf affair: Colorful Judgement, Rainbows for Luck, and Longship.

Colorful Judgement captured a 1 3/8-mile grass allowance two starts back. He ran perhaps his best career race following a six-week break in the 1 1/2-mile Niagara, finishing four lengths behind Strut the Stage in second.

"He's going to be a real nice horse, and we expect bigger things from him next year," Frostad said. "I don't know what his best distance is yet; it's probably a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter. We'll have to see how he comes along."

Lenny the Lender, who suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 2003 Sky Classic, is back for another go. He was beaten a nose in last year's event while being impeded in the stretch by victorious Bowman Mill. After a long inquiry, the stewards ruled that the interference occurred after the wire.