09/23/2004 12:00AM

No 'Bourbon' to stop The Finagler


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Silver Deputy Stakes runner-up The Finagler will be among the favorites in Saturday's $136,000 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine.

The seven-furlong Swynford, which lost its Canadian graded status a few years ago, has been won by the Canadian champion 2-year-old in five of the past six years.

Wholelottabourbon, the Silver Deputy winner, was under serious consideration for the Swynford, but he wasn't entered. He will run back in the Oct. 9 Bull Page Stakes, according to trainer Nick Gonzalez.

The Finagler was claimed for $45,000 from Gonzalez by owners Cindy Cox, Lisa McCallum-Smith, and trainer Greg Cox out of a win on Aug. 4. They also went in for The Finagler when he was slated to make his debut in a $40,000 event Aug. 1, but the gelding got loose in the warmup and was scratched.

In his first start off the claim, in the 6 1/2-furlong Silver Deputy on Sept. 6, The Finagler raced four lengths off the early lead and made up some ground in the stretch to finish a length behind Wholelottabourbon.

Greg Cox said the Swynford is a logical spot for The Finagler.

"He was closing good enough in the Silver Deputy that I think seven-eighths should be the next step for him," Cox said. "I think the extra distance might help him."

Cox worked The Finagler himself last Saturday, when the gelding went a half-mile in 47.60 seconds on the training track.

"It was almost like a two-minute lick for him," Cox said. "He's doing really good."

Trainer Mike Mareina entered two contenders, What's Up Dude and Olympia Fields.

What's Up Dude won his maiden at six furlongs in his debut, then finished third in the Silver Deputy. He drilled a half-mile in 47.40 seconds Sept. 15.

Olympia Fields, who blew away Ontario-sired maidens in his second start, is coming off a game second-place finish at seven furlongs in the restricted Simcoe Stakes.

Chasing the Fox, a maiden trained by Dave Cotey, was beaten a head as the favorite in the Juvenile Stakes at Fort Erie on Sept. 5.

Cotey said Chasing the Fox ran greenly in the six-furlong Juvenile, and was more focused with the adition of blinkers in a recent work.

"With blinkers on, he went a lot nicer and straighter," Cotey said. "I was really happy with him."

* First Quarter and Sauvage head Saturday's supporting feature, the $109,000 Flaming Page Stakes. Eleven other fillies and mares were entered in the 1 1/2-mile turf marathon.