10/23/2001 11:00PM

Friendly Spirit, Taloa stretch budding rivalry

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ANDERSON, Ind. - Friendly Spirit and Taloa will meet for the third time this season when they head a field of nine going 1 1/16 miles in the $40,000 Evansville Stakes for 3-year-old Indiana-bred fillies.

Friendly Spirit and Taloa have been almost inseparable in their previous two meetings, both sprints. Taloa captured a nonwinners-of-two allowance race over Friendly Spirit by a neck Sept. 17, and then Friendly Spirit turned the tables and prevailed by a head in the Vincennes Stakes Oct. 5.

The increase in distance to 1 1/16 miles will be the first time around two turns for both fillies. Friendly Spirit, trained by Stanley Roberts, breaks from post 1 with Jamie Theriot to ride. Taloa will have the services of leading rider Terry Thompson from post 7 for trainer Shane Spiess.

Gary Patrick sends out the front-running Pricey Babe off an easy nine-length win versus nonwinners-of-three allowance company Sept. 29. A daughter of Repriced, Pricey Babe has two route wins to her credit this year, but an easy lead may be hard to find in this speed-laden field. Lester Knight has the mount from post 5.