05/28/2003 12:00AM

Kalfaari looks as good as new in comeback race

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - If there was any question regarding 2002 Manitoba champion older horse Kalfaari's ability to recover from an injury, it was certainly dispelled last Saturday night at Assiniboia Downs.

After going 4 for 4 here last year with victories in the G Sydney Halter, Free Press, and Wheat City stakes, Kalfaari was laid up last August after winning the Wheat City. An old, unspecified injury was reportedly bothering him.

There was certainly no sign of any ailment in Saturday's $16,000 allowance race, his first start of 2003, as Kalfaari bulled his way out of traffic early on the backstretch and made a big move into the turn to take over the lead.

Kalfaari then rated just outside and in front of speed horse Wondrous Zeal until midstretch and drew out to win by three-quarters of a length over a rallying Deputy Country in a sharp time of 1:04.80 for the 5 1/2 furlongs.

Owned and trained by Clint Willson, Kalfaari probably will make his next start in the $35,000 Free Press Stakes on June 15. Unless something very solid ships in from Alberta, he appears unbeatable in that race.

Briara sharp in allowance prep

There was also a preview of the $35,000 La Verendrye Stakes on June 14 for fillies and mares last Sunday, when trainer Bert Blake turned loose Briara to win a $16,000 allowance race over Regal Heir.

Regal Heir showed sharp speed early in the 5 1/2-furlong race, opening up an easy three-length lead, but Briara stayed close while rating and came flying late on the turn to take over.

Regal Heir, a stakes winner at Hastings last year, was making her first start of 2003 and hung tough until midstretch, but the race-fit Briara drew out to win by 3 3/4 lengths in 1:05.40.

The next meeting between these two, in the one-mile La Verendrye, is expected to be much closer. They will probably be joined by Remiewaterbluz in that race.

Trained by Clayton Gray for Well-Being Stable, Remiewaterbluz ran away from a nonwinners-of-two-other-than allowance field in the third race on last Sunday's card, winning by 5 1/4 lengths and posting the same final time as Briara.