06/03/2004 12:00AM

'Monarch' to go mile in return


CALGARY, Alberta - Sweet Monarch, champion 3-year-old filly on this circuit two years ago, will be taking her first step along the comeback trail when she faces eight rivals in an optional claimer going a mile at Stampede Park on Saturday.

Trainer Dale Greenwood saddles Sweet Monarch and has enlisted the services of leading rider Quincy Welch for Sweet Monarch's first start since she finished seventh in the Ballerina at Hastings in October 2002. She missed all of 2003 with a tendon injury.

Greenwood has been patiently supervising Sweet Monarch's return through a string of solid works this spring. He entered Sweet Monarch in a similar spot two weeks ago but elected to scratch when the track came up sloppy.

Sweet Monarch is among nine nominees to the 1 1/16-mile Duchess of York here June 12, but is unlikely to run back on short rest.

A short field headed by Alberta's 2003 horse of the year, Raylene, appears probable for the Duchess of York but such is not the case for the Herald Gold Plate the following afternoon.

The racing secretary at Stampede, Barry McGrath, received 16 nominations for the $50,000 Herald Gold Plate, the top offering for older horses at this meeting. The field could include Deputy Country, upset winner of the Teeworth Plate here May 23; Rindanica, a closing second in that race; and They Call Me Cody, Alberta's champion older horse of 2003.

Lord Shogun, winner of the 2002 Alberta Derby, remains an outside possibility to ship in from his home base at Hastings.