05/13/2004 11:00PM

Madam Speaker ready for return

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Eleven Minnesota-bred fillies and mares will contest the $40,000 Lady Slipper Stakes, a traditional opening-weekend fixture at Canterbury Park.

The deserving favorite in Sunday's six-furlong sprint is Madam Speaker, winner of last season's Frances Genter Stakes and Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship. Unraced since August, Madam Speaker has posted two bullet works in preparation for her return. Vic Hanson trains the 4-year-old Wild Zone filly, and last year's leading rider, Derek Bell, will ride.

Madam Speaker must fend off Muir Eireann, who captured the Frances Genter in 2000 and finished a close second in last season's Minnesota Distaff Sprint. Michelle Sinn has been training Muir Eireann in Chicago for her seasonal debut and saw her drill a bullet five-furlong work at Hawthorne last week. Joel Campbell will ride.

Last year's Lady Slipper winner, Fancy Injun, returns for trainer David Van Winkle, who gave her a midwinter break after claiming the filly midway through last season's Canterbury meeting. A confirmed late runner, Fancy Injun appears to get a favorable pace scenario and will have the services of Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens.

Maywood's Jill also is as an upset possibility in the Lady Slipper. Second in last year's Minnesota Oaks, Maywood's Jill has posted a series of fast work times while preparing for her first start since August.