11/20/2003 1:00AM

'Maestro' tries to get Nemett a stakes win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Jake Nemett's two stable stars, Kabul and El Gran Maestro, have accumulated six second-place finishes between them in stakes at Woodbine this year. El Gran Maestro will try to get Nemett his first stakes victory of the meeting Saturday in the $128,500 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

El Gran Maestro suffered a heartbreaking loss to late-charging Tusayan in the Aug. 6 Vice Regent Stakes on turf. El Gran Maestro never threatened favored Mobil on dirt two starts ago, in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby on Oct. 13, but managed to nose out Added Edge, the Canadian champion 2-year-old of 2002, for second in that 1 1/8-mile contest.

Last time out, in a one-mile turf allowance, El Gran Maestro came up the rail in the stretch to finish two lengths back in fourth in a 14-horse field. Nemett said that type of trip has never been El Gran Maestro's preference. "He was on the inside, and he won't run on the inside," Nemett said.

El Gran Maestro drew post 1 for Saturday. Lining up outside of him will be Cibo, Biddy's Lad, Luke in My Pocket, Time of War, and Executive Legacy.

Bob Tiller, Woodbine's leading trainer, sends out both Luke in My Pocket and Executive Legacy.

Luke in My Pocket, a half-brother to versatile stakes winner Brass in Pocket, was a come-from-behind maiden winner going seven furlongs on Oct. 19 in his second and most recent outing.

"He's still learning the game," Tiller said. "I thought he ran green in both of his starts. I think he'll get a mile and a sixteenth. His half-sister [Brass in Pocket] has gone long and won, but he has a different style than her."

Executive Legacy has won 3 of 10 starts at the meeting and was third in the seven-furlong Deputy Minister Stakes on Oct. 15. Last time out he was fifth as the favorite in a seven-furlong allowance, much to Tiller's dismay.

"He's a funny horse," Tiller said. "I was very disappointed with his last race. He didn't try a jump, and came back perfect. He has enough ability to be right there with these horses - it's just a matter of him putting out.

"It would not surprise me to see him run big. This is the only Ontario-sire stakes of the year going long for 3-year-olds, so we have to take a shot."

Biddy's Lad, a prominent second in the Deputy Minister, will probably set the pace in his first attempt beyond seven furlongs.