08/19/2004 11:00PM

Not just a one-horse race

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Hoper could give the brilliant South Bay Cove a run for her money in Sunday's $140,250 Ontario Debutante Stakes, a six-furlong dash for 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine.

Hoper faced males on a sloppy track in her only start July 31, and was victorious by three-quarters of a length over the Seattle Slew colt Slew's Saga. Her five-furlong time of 59.20 seconds translated into a 66 Beyer Figure.

Trainer Dave Dwyer said he was worried about Hoper's shins leading up to her debut.

"I thought the worst thing that could happen was that she would buck them out, but it didn't look like she was going to, so that's why I ran her," he said. "A race for the girls didn't go, so I put her in against the boys, because she had shown me a lot of talent."

Hoper is a full sister to stakes winner Honey Eyed.

"She's a beautiful filly," Dwyer said. "She's got guts. She's always shown that she can really run. I think she's got a good future. I'll put her in [the Debutante], and we'll see how the race comes up, and then we'll go from there."

South Bay Cove received a lofty 87 Beyer when she won her May 22 debut. She went on to finish fifth after getting sideswiped in the stretch of the My Dear Stakes, and was promoted to fourth by disqualification.

Trainer Roger Attfield said South Bay Cove was sick prior to the My Dear.

"She had just gotten over the flu," Attfield recalled. "She wasn't running her race, but she got bothered too."

Most recently, in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well Stakes, South Bay Cove dusted a mediocre field, winning by 12 1/2 lengths in a slow clocking.

South Bay Cove blew out a half-mile in 47.60 seconds over the training track on Wednesday, much to Attfield's satisfaction. "She seems to be doing really well," he said.

High Button Shoes, a Carson City filly trained by Mark Frostad, is another contender in the nine-horse field. She broke from the tricky inside post when she captured her July 18 debut, earning a 69 Beyer.

Trainer Mark Casse entered two second-out winners, Extra Bases and Shout to the North.

Extra Bases won a maiden special taken off the grass Aug. 1, while Shout to the North graduated over a sloppy track July 31.