05/25/2003 11:00PM

Forever Grand entered, likely to run


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Forever Grand, winner of the six-furlong New Providence Stakes on May 18, was entered for Wednesday's $128,750 Steady Growth Stakes at Woodbine. Whether he runs won't be determined until Wednesday morning.

"Right now, I'm leaning towards running him," said trainer Bob Tiller. "He came out of his last race good."

The 1 1/16-mile race has lured five other Ontario-sired runners - Barbeau Ruckus, Mister Coop, Geraint, Clever Victor, and T J's Lucky Moon, the 2002 Queen's Plate winner.

Forever Grand, who was third in last year's Plate, won two restricted stakes at 1 1/16 miles during the second half of 2002. He finished third and fourth in his first two outings this year before winning the New Providence with a powerful stretch kick, splitting horses inside the eighth pole.

Tiller said he wasn't surprised to see Forever Grand take the New Providence.

"He was shortening up, and the game plan was to try to take a run at the speed," Tiller said. "He was in great shape, and I really thought he was going to run a big one. I was a little worried, because he has a tendency to lean in a little bit, but I was pleased that he found some room."

T J's Lucky Moon paid $166 when he captured the 2002 Plate. He was shelved for the second half of 2002 because of a stifle injury that occurred in the July 21 Prince of Wales Stakes, according to Ross Armata Jr., who replaced his uncle, Vito Armata, as the gelding's trainer this year.

When T J's Lucky Moon returned to action in a seven-furlong allowance May 10, he was a clear second to runaway winner Soaring Free, much to the delight of the younger Armata.

"I was very happy with his first race back," he said. "He closed a little and came out of it in excellent shape. We're hoping he moves up off of it, although I know it won't be an easy race."

Barbeau Ruckus, trained by Ross Armata Sr., landed the Sir Barton Stakes in the fall. He came off the sidelines and finished second in a $100,000 optional claimer May 3, his chances compromised by a slow pace.

Mister Coop, sixth as the favorite in the Nov. 23 Sir Barton, has won allowance races in both of his starts this year. He is trained by Malcolm Pierce.