08/28/2002 11:00PM

Niagara features sibling rivalry


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Impeccably bred full brothers Strike Smartly and Full of Wonder will form an intriguing Sam-Son Farm entry in Saturday's Grade 1, $335,400 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

The 1 1/2-mile turf race, which is a prep for the Grade 1 Canadian International, has also lured unbeaten Perfect Soul, along with United States invaders Bicentennial and Sumati.

Strike Smartly and Full of Wonder are both half-brothers to the brilliant Dance Smartly, Canada's 1991 Horse of the Year. Both began their careers on the main track before finding their niche on the grass.

"They're a lot alike," said Mark Frostad, who trains the two sons of Mr. Prospector. "They're both late-maturing. I guess we're going to find out who's better on Saturday. I think they're pretty close."

Strike Smartly, a 5-year-old, notched his first stakes on July 21 in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Center, nailing entrymate Quiet Resolve on the wire.

"I was surprised to see him beat Quiet Resolve," Frostad said. "Quiet Resolve looked like he was home and cooled-out, but he just came and got him. It helped his value a lot."

Full of Wonder, a 4-year-old, closed to finish second in the allowance prep for the Niagara, and won his two previous starts in allowance company.

Perfect Soul, a 4-year-old trained by Roger Attfield, won his debut on June 6. He then won a 1 1/4-mile allowance, and was a domineering winner most recently in a 1 3/8-mile optional claimer.

Regular rider Robert Landry said Perfect Soul, a son of the world's leading sire, Sadler's Wells, is potentially as good as two turf champions he has ridden - Buck's Boy and Quiet Resolve.

"I'm very high on him," Landry said. "He's bred to be a good horse, and he's done everything we've asked of him, so far. He hasn't hooked the big boys yet. This will be a real test for him.

"He's really begun to put it together," Landry added. "The last time I rode him, he was a lot more aggressive early in the race than he used to be. He knew what was happening, and he won in a gallop. He hasn't been pressured to the wire yet."

Perfect Soul will be coupled with Muntej, who was recently fourth in the 1 3/8-mile prep for the Niagara.

* Catch the Ring, the 2000 Canadian Oaks winner, heads Saturday's supporting feature, the $107,000 Flaming Page Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

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