10/01/2001 11:00PM

Kiss a Native following a familiar script


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes in the books, the long-term focus shifts to the 2001 Sovereign Awards.

This year's Sovereign ceremony, which honors the best in Thoroughbred racing and breeding, will be held at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel on Friday, Dec. 14.

The Jockey Club of Canada has announced that the cutoff date for eligibility this year will be Nov. 18. Horses who have not made at least three starts in Canada during the current year will not be eligible for consideration.

Kiss a Native, the Sovereign Award winner in the 3-year-old male category last year, nailed down that honor by defeating older horses here in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup and then capturing the Grade 2 Pegasus at The Meadowlands.

Owned by John Franks and trained by David Bell, Kiss a Native will be making his third start of this season here in Sunday's $150,000 Durham Cup, a Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Kiss a Native had been pulled up in his first start here last year, the Marine Stakes but then won the Victoria Park in his next outing.

A Florida-bred gelding, Kiss a Native has followed an eerily familiar pattern this season, finishing a lackluster fifth beginning his campaign in the Seagram Cup and then winning the Durham Cup prep in his next and most recent outing.

"His last race was okay," said Bell. "He still didn't really get into the race, but he can do that and beat that kind. It was the same last year when he won his second start, but then he just kept getting better and better."

Kiss a Native, who will carry 119 pounds in the Durham Cup, tuned up with five furlongs in 1:00.80 under regular rider Mickey Walls on the main track here last Sunday.

Bell also has a pair of candidates for the upcoming holiday Monday feature, the Grade 1 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes for 2-year-olds. Changeintheweather and Adjalah are both under consideration for the $250,000, 1 1/16-mile race.

Changeintheweather won his maiden by 10 lengths last time out in his second career start, which came over the Grey distance. Adjalah, a maiden, finished third in the six-furlong Vandal but then was last of 10 when trying turf in the summer.

Kimberlite Pipe heads to New York

Kimberlite Pipe, owned by Prairie Star Racing Stable and John Gunther and trained by Mike Wright Jr., shipped out Tuesday morning for Belmont and Saturday's Grade 2 Kelso Handicap.

The Kelso, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upwards, is Belmont's major prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

"He got an awful trip in the Atto Mile," said Wright, who had watched Kimberlite Pipe finish eighth, beaten just 3 3/4 lengths, after breaking from post 1 in the field of 14 for that Grade 1 race here Sept. 9.

"He was checked twice, and checked hard once. I'm not saying he would have won or anything, but he might have been on the board."

Wright, who has lined up Pat Day to ride Kimberlite Pipe, said the Kelso appearance has been the plan since shortly after the Atto Mile.

"The owners don't feel he got a fair chance there," said the trainer. "The bottom line is, we still don't know whether or not he belongs."

Husbands has a bad day

Cayman Sunset, who finished last in Sunday's E.P. Taylor after her saddle slipped, has left Woodbine for Keeneland and is expected to make a couple more starts in Kentucky this fall before joining the broodmare ranks.

An Irish-bred filly owned by Martyn Burke and trained by Ed Dunlop, Cayman Sunset had come over from England early last month and stayed on at Woodbine after running third in the Sept. 9 Canadian Handicap.

Cayman Sunset's mishap was the first in what turned out to be a bad day for her jockey, Patrick Husbands.

Two races later, in the Highlander Handicap, Husbands was unseated by his mount, Estonia, and was taken to Etobicoke General Hospital. X-rays showed no damage, and Husbands will have several days to nurse a sore arm, as he already was scheduled to sit out a suspension this Wednesday through Friday.

In the meantime, Husbands missed his return engagement in the Canadian International aboard Williams News, whom he had piloted to a close second-place finish in last year's running.

Williams News, under last-minute replacement rider David Clark, finished 11th in the field of 13.

Strait From Texas takes to turf

Strait From Texas could be headed straight to the winner's circle after Thursday's sixth race at Woodbine, a first-level allowance on turf for 2-year-old fillies.

Strait From Texas has run three solid races in three starts for trainer Paul Buttigieg. She was second against $80,000 maidens when she debuted on the main track July 26, and then graduated in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race on the grass Aug. 12.

Most recently, in a division of the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes on turf, Strait From Texas dueled up front all the way and gave way grudgingly in deep stretch to finish a half-length back of Lush Soldier in second.

Vice n' Friendly looks good

Thursday's eighth race, a $62,500 allowance/optional claimer on the main track, could be Vice n' Friendly's for the taking.

Vice n' Friendly, a one-time stakes performer, has developed a winning pattern by going from a sprint to a route this year. He turned the trick while bagging his second straight victory May 19, and also did it following a dull effort when he dropped from $62,500 to $40,000 on Aug. 15.

Vice n' Friendly stalked the pace before fading to fifth last time in a $62,500 sprint, and should be prominent with the move back to 1 1/16 miles on Thursday.

Mickey Walls retains the mount for trainer Abraham Katryan on Vice n' Friendly, who will run with a $60,000 tag.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink