09/21/2005 11:00PM

Elle Runaway tries dirt again


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Turf specialist Elle Runaway will try the main track Saturday at Woodbine in the $135,875 La Lorgnette Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

Elle Runaway, trained by Malcolm Pierce for Live Oak Plantation, put it all together in her last two starts on turf, winning the Ontario Colleen Handicap and the allowance prep for that stakes.

Elle Runaway has tried the dirt three times, the first of which resulted in a fourth-place finish in a maiden race here Nov. 12. She spent last winter at the Fair Grounds, where she scored her first win in a one-mile maiden special in the slop and ran second in a $50,000 optional claimer on a fast track.

Pierce said he believes Elle Runaway can handle both surfaces and said he wouldn't mind seeing a wet track Saturday.

"She's a little bit better on the turf, but she's no slouch on the dirt, either," Pierce said. "She handled the dirt fine at the Fair Grounds, but our track here is much different from the Fair Grounds, and I'm not sure how she's going to handle it. She loves the slop. If it rains and if we had a sealed track on Saturday, I would really feel confident. When the mud hits her belly, she runs faster."

Pierce said Elle Runaway has done well since the Colleen and appears to be in peak form.

"She came out of the Colleen in great shape, and we've been shopping for a spot to run her in," Pierce explained. "She's an American-bred, and there's really not much left for her here."

Warm Rain is another major contender. She can also handle both surfaces when she's on her game, but is coming off a lackluster 13th-place finish in the one-mile Colleen. Trainer Bob Tiller said Warm Rain had a troubled trip early in the race, and failed to show her customary speed.

"She got body-checked four times going down the backstretch," Tiller said. "She didn't like being in the corners. She was five wide and out of the picture, and just gave it up."

Warm Rain finished second in two straight dirt routes early in the summer - the Hill 'n' Dale Stakes and a $62,500 optional claimer - but Tiller was noncommittal about running her Saturday.

"I'll take a look at the field," Tiller said. "She's eligible for nonwinners of three-other-than, so there's other races she could run in, although you don't get many opportunities here for black type for American-breds."