09/05/2004 11:00PM

Dropper dangerous at $10K tag


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The finale on Wednesday's card, a $10,000 claimer for 3-year-olds and up, has drawn a field of 13, which includes several classy runners with a chance.

Devil Valentine should be among the favorites in the seven-furlong dash. A 6-year-old with nearly $500,000 in the bank, Devil Valentine won three Ontario-sire stakes in his first two years in competition, and was second in the 2000 Coronation Futurity.

Devil Valentine has just one victory from 13 starts this year, but he is taking a significant drop off a fourth-place finish for $12,500. The last time he tried seven-eighths, in a $20,000 claimer July 30, he battled with two others through suicidal fractions before fading to finish about eight lengths in arrears.

Ray Sabourin retains the mount for trainer Vito Armata on Devil Valentine.

Ice Water, a 9-year-old with 14 wins and $647,871 in earnings, was stakes-placed several times during his formative years. He's turning back off a series of mediocre route efforts, but defeated $20,000 opposition at Fort Erie on June 19.

Ice Water is making his first start for trainer Darwin Banach, who won last Wednesday's first race with longshot Gift of the Heart.

Beau's Water hasn't run since he was fourth in a $12,500 race nearly a year ago, but has a history of winning off a layoff. He captured the first two starts of his career, and has earned a 90-plus Beyer Speed Figure on two occasions.

Beau's Wager has been working on a regular basis for trainer Ralph Biamonte, who has been winning at a 13 percent rate with his extended- layoff runners.

Party Believer ships in from Fort Erie off back-to-back runner-up placings in a pair of 6 1/2-furlong races. He was ninth the last time he ran here, in $20,000 company in July, but his overall Woodbine record of 6-5-2 from 31 starts is respectable. Stan Fishman trains the 7-year-old Party Believer.

Reel Fast Marco is in decent form for trainer Tony Mattine. He got an 86 Beyer when he wired $25,000 foes going a 1 1/16 miles June 9.

* Beginning Wednesday, Woodbine drops the lowest claiming level from $12,500 to $10,000 to try to lure horses from Fort Erie, whose meeting concluded on Monday. The bottom level will drop to $8,000 on Sept. 22.