07/21/2003 12:00AM

Hard Edge moves up off upset


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sam-Son Farm castoff Hard Edge caused quite a stir June 30 at Woodbine, when he upset the favored Sam-Son runner Puffer in an entry-level allowance.

Hard Edge will move up to the second allowance category and try to stay 1 3/16 miles on the grass in Wednesday's featured third race. The $74,400 race also has lured Royal Regalia, El General, Justified Attack, Wild Strike, and Funny Soldier.

Hard Edge was claimed from his maiden win for a bargain $35,000 last Nov. 23 by trainer Sid Attard on behalf of owner Robert Gaito. He took the winter off, then resurfaced in April and ran two dull races on the main track.

Hard Edge perhaps gained some confidence by running third when Attard dropped him to face $40,000 non-winners-of-three opposition May 11. He won his next start, which came at the same level, then last out won at 25-1, edging Puffer at a mile on the turf. Puffer came back run second in the Benburb Stakes at Fort Erie.

Gerry Olguin retains the mount on Hard Edge, a half-brother to Toronto Cup Handicap winner Think Red.

The Stronach Stable entry of Royal Regalia and El General will likely be favored. Royal Regalia, a son of Cozzene and a Miswaki mare, ran to his strong turf pedigree when he led throughout a 1 3/8-mile first-level allowance July 13. A brave runner when he is loose on the lead, Royal Regalia, might encounter some early pressure here from Hard Edge.

El General has been campaigned sporadically since the fall, and failed to pose a threat in any of his three outings at Gulfstream Park over the winter. But he is coming off a much-improved effort here at this level. In that one-mile race, he rallied wide from off slow splits to reach contention in midstretch, but hung late and finished third - behind Angel on the Wing, who subsequently ran third in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes. The runner-up in El General's race, All Star Lover, came back and won his next start.

Funny Soldier wasn't far behind El General in fourth in his last turf start, but recently was a well-beaten third in an allowance race taken off the grass and run in the slop. He finished third in both the 2002 Toronto Cup and Charlie Barley handicaps.

Wild Strike is a wake-up possibility in his third start off a 1 1/2-year layoff, while Justified Attack seems overmatched.