08/16/2001 12:00AM

Mendel comes down to 'Rouge' and 'Beau'


SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - Saturday's $6,000 Fred Mendel Memorial Handicap for older runners has drawn five entrants, but Rouge Royale and Beau Ring stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Rouge Royale is the reigning local handicap champion, while Beau Ring was last year's top local 3-year old. The others in the 1 1/8-mile race appear to be vastly overmatched.

Rouge Royale, owned by Stan Schmidt and trained by Sandra Foster, earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 90 here two starts ago when he won the one-mile Coca Cola Classic. Rouge Royale stalked the speed for a half-mile before closing the gap down the backstretch. He dueled down the stretch with Beau Ring, and won by a neck in a solid 1:38.40.

Rouge Royale raced just last Sunday at Northlands Park in a $25,000 claiming race over 1 1/16 miles. He got a nice stalking trip under regular rider Serge Rocheleau and appeared ready to take charge in the final quarter, but he flattened out and finished third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

Beau Ring, owned by Rob and Jack MacDonald, is 9 for 15, but has won just once in four starts this year. After starting his season by running second in the Inaugural, Beau Ring outlasted Rouge Royale to win an allowance race.

But Rouge Royale was much the best in the Early's Top Seeded, as Beau Ring broke slowly and finished third. The Coca Cola Classic was Beau Ring's best race Beyer-wise, and he could avenge that loss as the possible pacesetter here under rider Hugh Huston.

Rounding out the field are Cap in Hand, Molly O' Grady, and Private Seduction.