07/02/2005 12:00AM

Le Cinquieme Essai eyes four in a row


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Two of Fort Erie's most popular runners in recent years, Le Cinquieme Essai and Lenny the Lender, get top billing in Monday's $100,000 Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial Stakes, a supporting feature to the Bison City Stakes.

A 1 1/16-mile race scheduled for the turf, the Daryl Wells Memorial is Fort Erie's first stakes of the meet. The race is is restricted to Canadian-breds and drew five runners.

Le Cinquieme Essai, the winner of the 2002 Prince of Wales here en route to being named Canadian champion 3-year-old, towers over this field with his present form. He has won his last three starts, all at Woodbine.

After scoring an allowance win in October, Le Cinquieme Essai returned to win the $106,000 Labeeb on Nov. 7. The winning form continued this year when Le Cinquieme Essai captured the Connaught Cup in his season debut May 29.

Trainer Paul Nielsen chose to run Le Cinquieme Essai on Monday at Fort Erie rather than Sunday at Woodbine in the $331,800 King Edward Breeder's Cup, a Grade 2 event.

"I think he's better off at Fort Erie," said Nielsen. "He's in good shape. And I walked the course [Thursday], and it's in very good shape. It's been well looked after."

Nielsen said it isn't the talent at Woodbine that concerns him, but the 1 1/8-mile distance and the wide turn.

"He would be on the lead, and someone would be pushing him the whole way," said Nielsen. "He just can't stay the little extra. He's in great shape; he worked in 47. I always try and find the easiest spot I can."

Lenny the Lender, 9, goes into the fray winless in his last 16 starts, dating back to Oct. 31, 2002. He has raced well, but has been the victim of bad luck - twice, he lost in a photo in Grade 2 stakes. Last year, Lenny earned $93,288. The year before, he earned $98,282.

Monday, Lenny the Lender makes his first start since Oct. 24, when he finished last in the Grade 1 Canadian International. "Races he was entered in didn't fill," said owner-trainer Dick Jukosky, "but he's been working well. I wish I could have got a start into him."

A strong factor in the race could be Tamara, a 5-year-old mare based at Woodbine. Two of her four wins have been on the turf, and in her last start, she was in a dead-heat for the win.

Sailor Knot is an eye-catching closer who finished fourth, beaten three-quarters of a length, in a strong $40,000 claimer at Woodbine on June 16. A 4-year-old, Sailor Knot should be fresh Monday, when he makes just his second start since Jan. 2.

Open Lock, trained by Heather Creath, completes the field.