09/25/2001 11:00PM

Heliotrope back with the girls


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Heliotrope, last year's Sovereign Award winning champion turf female, has found a cozy spot in Friday's eighth race at Woodbine, a one-mile turf allowance for fillies and mares.

A field of nine was drawn for the $73,900 race, limited to nonwinners of $44,340 other than at a mile or over since Sept. 1.

Heliotrope, a 6-year-old daughter of Northern Score, developed a fondness for the grass early in her career, partially because of the turf breeding on her sire's side. Northern Score, an unraced son of Northern Dancer and Glorious Song, is a half-brother to top sire Rahy, as well as to Singspiel, who won the 1996 Canadian International.

Heliotrope has run as well during her current campaign as she did during her championship season, although she hasn't won a stakes this year. She's tried the boys twice, finishing second by just three-quarters of a length last time out in the Grade 3 Play the King Handicap. She was also a close-up fourth in the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap in June.

Two of Heliotrope's more memorable races this year came when she encountered trouble. She overcame major traffic problems and closed with a rush to win the allowance prep for the Royal North Handicap on July 15. Three weeks later in the Grade 3 Royal North, she was blocked in the stretch before rallying inside to finish just a half-length back of favored Confessional in second.

Regular rider Neil Poznansky has the mount for trainer David Bell, who will also saddle Ever After.

Ever After was turned over to Bell early in the summer, and won her first local outing in a one-mile allowance July 21. She stumbled at the break and was never a factor in her lone subsequent appearance in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap.

Gary Boulanger will pilot Ever After, who won two stakes in Kentucky last year under the guidance of trainer Hal Wiggins.

Rounding out the field for Friday's excellent headliner will be Byzantine, Ahead by a Century, Herzblatt, Pete's Fancy, Royal Jade, El Prado Essence and Except for Wanda.

Ahead by a Century comes off back-to-back third-place finishes, in the Royal North on turf and in the Seaway Stakes on the main track. A deep closer, she is winless in seven starts at the meet for leading trainer Bob Tiller.

Herzblatt finished well back in the Sept. 2 Canadian after forcing a fast pace, but was victorious in each of her two previous excursions in much easier company. Malcolm Pierce trains for Stronach Stable.