09/21/2007 12:00AM

Marsh Side back to scene of victory

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Maryland-based Marsh Side has done his optimum running at Woodbine, and he should be a force to be reckoned with in Sunday's $300,000 Sky Classic Stakes.

The Grade 2 event, scheduled for 1 3/8 miles on the grass, is a major prep for the $2 million Canadian International here Oct. 21. Three other American shippers were entered: Cloudy's Knight, Revved Up, and Linda's Lad.

Marsh Side, a 4-year-old, won his first stakes here last December on the Polytrack, in the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory. He didn't run again until the July 22 Northern Dancer Stakes here, a 1 1/2-mile turf event, and wound up second to a razor-sharp Sky Conqueror. The third-place finisher, Jambalaya, returned to capture the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

Hetta Steele, an assistant to trainer Michael Dickinson, said Marsh Side was in prime form heading into the Grade 2 Northern Dancer.

"It was a little bit of a risk, but we couldn't have been more happy with the way he was going into the race," Steele said. "He ran a huge race for us."

Most recently, in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont, Marsh Side trailed the field after racing wide. Steele offered no excuses for his subpar showing in that 1 3/8-mile contest.

"He came back from the race very well, and has been training extremely well," Steele said.

Last Answer, a 7-year-old trained by Mike Keogh, figures to be the pacemaker. He took some time to find his best stride this year, and was a deceptively good fourth in the Northern Dancer.

Last Answer ran the race of his life last time in the 1 1/2-mile Nijinsky Stakes. He opened up a substantial lead on the backstretch and held on for a three-quarter-length victory over Cloudy's Knight, who edged the heavily favored Sky Conqueror for second.

Keogh is content with the way Last Answer has trained since the Grade 2 Nijinsky.

"He worked real well on the grass the other day," said Keogh. "He went seven-eighths in 1:31, but they had the dogs way out. He's coming into it the same as he did for his last race."

Cloudy's Knight ran a typically good race in the Nijinsky. He lost a nail-biter in his previous start, the Grade 3 Stars and Strips BC Handicap at Arlington.

Revved Up, second in the 2005 Sky Classic, won a restricted stakes at Saratoga in his last start.

Eccentric has been laid up since he upset Sky Conqueror and Jambalaya in the Grade 2 King Edward BC Stakes July 2.