08/23/2006 11:00PM

Ezra will send two of his trio in Cup

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Rain or shine, scratches or not, trainer Daryl Ezra has a potent hand in Saturday's Fort Erie Cup, scheduled for seven furlongs on the turf. Showers are in the forecast.

Ezra, who is also the track's race-caller, has entered the trio of Grab the Cat, Lindsey's Dove, and Jet Engine in the $30,000 race for fillies and mares, which will have its distance changed to 6 1/2 furlongs should the surface be switched to dirt. Stephen Chesney owns the first two runners and shares the other with Ezra's brother Brad.

The Fort Erie Cup, to be run as a $10,000 starter allowance, drew 11 contestants. The field on the turf course is limited to 10 starters. Fantastic Allie, a winner of six turf races, is the also eligible.

"On the grass, the plan is to run two of them," said Ezra. "We won't run Grab the Cat on the grass. She's on a four-race winning streak, and I don't want to experiment with her at this stage."

Grab the Cat is the best filly on the grounds in Ezra's opinion, and he believes she is the leading candidate to become Fort Erie's horse of the year. Twice previously, runners from Ezra's barn have emerged with the title: Ashagio and Lucky Tec.

Ezra claimed Grab the Cat for $5,000 three starts ago. The filly is 4 for 4 at the Fort, winning twice sprinting and twice going long. Among the victories was a Cup race, the Golden Horseshoe.

If Grab the Cat is to be scratched, it won't be until post time nears.

"The rules of racing dictate in a stakes race you have 45 minutes to post to scratch," said Ezra. "Then, the horse on the also-eligible list won't get in. It's a possibility. That's what you get for your $250 [entry fee]."

Ezra's remaining two are proven grass runners with different running styles. Lindsey's Dove, a winner of six turf races - half of them at Saturday's distance - will come out winging, said Ezra.

"If anybody wants to run with her, it's all the better for Jet Engine," a deep closer, he said.

Ezra feels the main threat on grass will come from Cielavia, trained by Jack Wilson and the winner of the five-furlong Fort Erie Slots Cup on Aug. 5.

"She's a nice horse on grass, and is the scariest runner for Lindsey's Dove," said Ezra about Cielavia. "We don't know her form around two turns."