09/30/2003 11:00PM

My Lucky Strike steps up in class

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - My Lucky Strike, one of the most improved runners at Woodbine this year, will move up in class Friday, in a $100,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up.

A nine-horse field was drawn for the six-furlong turf race, which also includes classy veterans Mr. Epperson, Chris's Bad Boy, and Red Sea.

My Lucky Strike was eased in his first start of the season, an April 12 allowance, but redeemed himself 13 days later, finishing third in a briskly run dash won by Spitfire Man.

My Lucky Strike took four more cracks at the first-allowance condition, and finally won on July 13, in a seven-furlong race, by four lengths in good time. He showed he could handle the grass, by winning a second-level allowance at seven furlongs Aug. 10. He raced wide throughout a subsequent one-mile turf allowance, and ran last in the 10-horse field, but was beaten only 2 3/4 lengths.

My Lucky Strike got his third victory in his last four starts on Sept. 14 in an $80,000 optional claimer. He defeated a strong group in the process, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

John Cirillo trains My Lucky Strike, who has plenty of speed and Patrick Husbands back in the saddle.

Mr. Epperson, the 2001 Canadian champion sprinter, was in excellent turf form heading into his recent sub-par showing on the main track. He looked like a winner at every point in his Aug. 30 score, a six-furlong dash for $80,000 optional claimers, and was third before that in an allowance prep for the Play the King Handicap, a race he won in 2001.

Chris's Bad Boy, winner of the 2000 Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs, has found the winner's circle in 4 of 9 outings in 2003, including two wins on the main track. His connections would prefer to see this race taken off the grass, although Chris's Bad Boy wasn't far behind Mr. Epperson in the Play the King prep and was only about four lengths in back of Soaring Free in the June 22 Nearctic Handicap.

Red Sea, who won a division of the 2001 Connaught Cup Stakes, was a come-from-behind winner in a seven-furlong race at this level July 6. He beat My Lucky Strike when finishing a lapped-on third last time out, on Aug. 29.