08/08/2003 12:00AM

Maiden winner is stakes fave


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Slightlymorelikely, coming off a runaway maiden victory, will likely be favored in Sunday's $136,250 Ontario Debutante Stakes, a six-furlong dash for 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine

Slightlymorelikely, a Florida-bred by speed sire Rizzi, was claimed from both of her starts. She finished second in her debut for trainer Mark Casse on June 7, taken for $40,000 by trainer Vito Armata.

Trainer Norm McKnight claimed Slightlymorelikely when she ran back for $50,000 on July 4. She won a five-furlong dash that day by nearly 11 lengths in 57.40 seconds, a clocking that earned her an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

McKnight said he had a look at Slightlymorelikely before her first race, but didn't put in a claim for her then.

"I liked the look of her in the paddock," McKnight recalled. "I thought she was a very tidy package. She got into a little trouble coming out of the gate, and ran a little green. I thought she could very easily have won. Off the way she ran, I was a little surprised when she came back for $50,000, but I think Vito did the right thing by moving her up a notch, because it's all about winning races. She ran a bang-up race and the time was excellent."

McKnight said he hadn't originally planned on running Slightlymorelikely in the Debutante.

"I entered her back in an a-other-than, but the race didn't fill," McKnight said. "The $50,000 race was a much cheaper bunch than what she's going to hook in this stakes, but it's definitely worth a chance, because of the way she won."

McKnight said he was pleased with Slightlymorelikely's two recent bullet works, both under Woodbine's leading stakes rider Todd Kabel, who has the mount.

"She worked very well both times," McKnight said. "When we breezed her five-eighths in a minute and change, it was effortless for her. She came back the other day and worked [three-eighths] in 35.40 by herself on the training track."

Rounding out the field are Beyond the Horizon, Never Look Back, Mrs. Mistofelees, Verybrightnshiney, and Wild Glory.

Beyond the Horizon came along the rail to win her May 24 debut by a nose over Megan's Appeal, who subsequently won the Shady Well Stakes. Trainer Dave Cotey said Beyond the Horizon wanted no part of 4 1/2 furlongs in that maiden special.

"She'll be a lot better off when we stretch her out," he said. "We have to start her off somewhere."