10/27/2003 12:00AM

My Vintage Port tries to clinch Sovereign Award in South Ocean


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - My Vintage Port will try to nail down the Sovereign Award as this year's champion 2-year-old filly Wednesday at Woodbine, when she seeks her third consecutive stakes score in the $133,125 South Ocean.

Sovereign contenders Blonde Executive and America America both bombed on Sunday, leaving the door wide open for My Vintage Port, who might not even need to win the 1 1/16-mile race in order to garner the award.

My Vintage Port won her maiden in the seven-furlong Muskoka Stakes Sept. 1. She recently won the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, stalking the dueling favorites, Dream About and Silver Bird, en route to a 3 3/4-length tally. Her 1 1/16-mile clocking of 1:48.80 earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of only 60.

Trainer Ken Parsley said his plan in the Princess Elizabeth was executed to perfection by jockey Jono Jones.

"We were just hoping somebody would go with [Dream About], and Silver Bird was up to the challenge," Parsley said. "[My Vintage Port] can go to the front if she has to - she has decent speed - but Jono's style is to sit back and see how the race sets up. It worked out well.

"The final time was pretty slow, and she didn't get a very good Beyer number."

Parsley believes that My Vintage Port is in peak form heading into the South Ocean.

"She came out of the [Princess Elizabeth] good," Parsley said. "She's probably as good now as she's been at any point. She seems to have gotten better as she's gone along. She hasn't missed any dances. She's not very big, but she's got determination and heart."

Rounding out the field of Ontario-sired fillies in the South Ocean are Paniemoniam, Proper Manners, Sheer Enchantment, Spice Rack, Cracked Conch, Boozin Blonde, and Foxy Jean.

Spice Rack got a whopping 82 Beyer when she defeated $50,000 maidens by nearly six lengths going seven furlongs in her Oct. 2 debut.

"I wasn't surprised that she won, but I didn't think she'd win that easily," said Barbara Minshall, who trains Spice Rack for Minshall Farm. "I thought she had a good chance, but you never expect them to draw off."

Minshall believes Spice Rack, a daughter of Sea Wall and stakes winner Buxton Spice, may find her calling over middle distances.

"She acts like she wants to go two turns," Minshall said. "Buxton Spice's best distance was probably seven-eighths, but she was third in the [Canadian] Oaks."

Kabel reaches $10 million mark

Todd Kabel became the first jockey in Canadian racing history to exceed the $10 million mark in earnings for a single season, when he guided Silver Spear to a second-place finish in Saturday's seventh race.

Kabel leads the Woodbine rider standings, with 141 wins and $10,064,217 in earnings. Patrick Husbands, who has won the Sovereign Award for top jockey each of the last four years, is second, with 133 wins and nearly $9.1 million in earnings.

"I was on a mission, right from the beginning of the year," said Kabel. "There's about five weeks left in the season, and I intend to stay focused. There's still plenty left to accomplish, and the [Sovereign Award] is definitely what I want."

Mr. Epperson becomes millionaire

Mr. Epperson, Canada's champion sprinter in 2001, cracked the $1 million barrier in career earnings when he captured Friday's feature, an $80,000 optional claimer on the grass. Trainer and part-owner Scott Fairlie claimed Mr. Epperson, an 8-year-old gelding, for $50,000 in April of 1999.

"He's been a nice horse for us," said Fairlie. "He's just a class act. He's probably one of the smartest horses I've been around. He's just a pleasure to be with."

Mr. Epperson has won 19 of 62 starts, while banking $1,032,331. Fairlie said he plans on campaigning him again in 2004. "He'll keep running, as long as he's happy doing it," Fairlie said.