11/26/2001 12:00AM

Expected Hour or Forever Grand?


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winner Expected Hour looks tough in a strong nine-horse field in Wednesday's sixth race at Woodbine, a six-furlong allowance for 2-year-olds.

Mark Casse has trained four runners in the lineup at some point this year, including Expected Hour, who was a $450,000 2-year-old purchase by the partnership of Bill Farish Jr., George Bolton, Edward Gaylord, and Elizabeth Grossman.

Casse had the moxy to run Expected Hour in the five-furlong Victoria Stakes first time out June 16, and was vindicated when the colt rallied along the rail to win going away.

Expected Hour was made the 1-2 favorite in his only other outing, July 15 in the Colin Stakes. He hit the front at the eighth pole in the six-furlong dash, but was nailed on the wire by Rum Splasher.

Casse has plenty of admiration for Expected Hour, who has worked well for his return. "He's a very pretty horse," Casse said. "He's a tall, rangy type. He's very smart."

Patrick Husbands will ride Expected Hour, a son of successful freshman sire Valid Expectations.

Completing the sixth-race field will be Open Concert, Valued Forum, Union Place, Tank's Expectation, Lakefield, You Leader, Forever Grand, and Sir Austin.

Casse will also saddle Open Concert, who is owned by Expected Hour's breeder, Mockingbird Farm Inc.

Open Concert graduated second time out and was fourth in the Swynford Stakes, but has been absent since running ninth in the Grade 1 Grey BC Stakes Oct. 8.

Casse lost Valued Forum and Tank's Expectation earlier in the meet via the claiming box. Both are outsiders here.

Forever Grand could be favored off his 6 1/2-length triumph in his debut in a five-furlong maiden special Oct. 26. He ran the distance in 58.20 seconds, good for an 85 Beyer Figure, the highest in this group.

Bob Tiller, who trains Forever Grand, owns him in partnership with Frank DiGiulio.

Lakefield looked like a nice prospect when he closed along the rail to win his debut on Oct. 8 in a six-furlong maiden special, earning a 77 Beyer. However, he was beaten 20 1/2 lengths as the favorite in a subsequent allowance, and is looking to regroup.

Lakefield is linked in the Stanley Baresich-trained entry with You Leader, who graduated versus $50,000 maidens and was fifth in allowance company in his two starts.

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