10/22/2002 11:00PM

Footing should help Cetewayo in local debut

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cetewayo, one of the grand old men of North American turf racing, is slated to make his Woodbine debut in Sunday's Sky Classic.

The Grade 2 Sky Classic, a $250,000 handicap, will be run over 1 3/8 miles on an E.P. Taylor turf course that was rated soft Wednesday morning. Such conditions should suit Cetewayo, an 8-year-old horse owned and bred by Dr. John Chandler and based in Maryland with trainer Michael Dickinson.

Bred in Kentucky, Cetewayo has started just 28 times but has won 11 races and $1,058,118.

Cetewayo won his first Grade 1 race at age 4, in Belmont's Sword Dancer, and notched his second Grade 1 score this past winter, in the Gulfstream Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on yielding turf.

In his last start, at Kentucky Downs Sept. 21, Cetewayo finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles on "good" going.

Leading rider Patrick Husbands has picked up the mount here on Cetewayo, who will get into the Sky Classic with 118 pounds.

A short prep for El Prado Essence

El Prado Essence disappointed as the odds-on choice in the six-furlong prep for the Ontario Fashion Handicap here Oct. 6. And while owner-trainer Audre Cappuccitti isn't thrilled about running back El Prado Essence over the same distance in Saturday's $139,625 Ontario Fashion, she doesn't have much of a choice.

"Six furlongs isn't really her game," said Cappuccitti, who has watched El Prado Essence finish second in her three most recent tries at the distance, including last year's Fashion.

"The Bessarabian is our plan. We'll have to use this as her prep."

The Grade 3 Bessarabian, a $150,000 race for fillies and mares, goes at seven furlongs, the distance at which El Prado Essence recorded her second straight Seaway win here Sept. 1.

El Prado Essence, being Kentucky-bred, does not have an excess of options here. The Seaway was her first start since June 23, when she finished second in the Sweet Briar Too Handicap, and she then was off for five weeks before the prep.

"She's not a good shipper, said Cappuccitti, "or I would have gone away with her."

While El Prado Essence certainly did not seem to be at her sharpest for the Fashion prep, she did manage a second-place finish behind the front-running Dreams Go Bye, who is among her opponents Saturday.

"Last time, nobody really went with that filly - I thought there was other speed in the race," said Cappuccitti, who is hoping for a contested pace Saturday.

And Cappuccitti may get her wish, with the Fashion's field of 10 including several speed-oriented runners who could cramp the style of Dreams Go Bye and put El Prado Essence in line for a favorable stalking trip from post 9.

The Fashion field also includes Feathers, who defeated El Prado Essence in last year's running but is winless in five starts this year, and invader Quick Blue, who shipped up from New Jersey and won the Royal North over six furlongs on turf here this summer for trainer Linda Rice.

The Ontario Fashion will go as the eighth race on Saturday's 10-race card, which begins at 11:32 a.m.

Wagering opens Friday

There will be no pick six wager on Saturday's Woodbine card, but a pick six will be offered on Arlington Park's Breeders' Cup program, with Woodbine hosting the Canadian pool.

Advance wagering on Saturday's Woodbine and Arlington cards will begin Friday at 3 p.m. with the exception of telephone accounting betting, which opens at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the windows and phone lines open at 10:30 a.m.

Dream Launcher vs. A Fleets Dancer

Dream Launcher, another productive member of the Cappuccitti outfit, is on schedule for his appearance in the $150,000 Woodbine Slots Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward here Nov. 9.

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred, Dream Launcher would be looking for his second straight stakes score after capturing the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup here Oct. 5.

Also heading for the Woodbine Slots Cup is A Fleets Dancer, who breezed four furlongs in 51 seconds over a sloppy training track under regular rider Robert Landry here Wednesday.

A Fleets Dancer, a 7-year-old owned by Cam Allard and trained by Roger Attfield, was Canada's champion older male last year, earning $427,487 in a campaign that included an 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

But A Fleets Dancer is winless in six starts this year, although he has finished in the top three on four occasions and has banked $82,110. He finished third, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by Dream Launcher, in the Durham Cup.

Kabeeb pointed for Ontario Lassie

Other Attfield workers on the training track tab included Kabeeb, who went four furlongs in 49 seconds, and Bala, who breezed three furlongs in 38.80 seconds.

Kabeeb won a maiden race in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth here Oct. 13 for Attfield and partners and is heading for the Ontario Lassie, which will be run over the same distance here Nov. 24.

Bala, owned by Kinghaven Farm, is nominated to the Nov. 2 Maple Leaf but remains eligible for a two-other- than allowance.

* Woodbine has announced a late change to its simulcast schedule and will be offering Arlington Park, rather than Keeneland, on Friday.