05/16/2008 12:00AM

Officer Cherrie takes on U.S. invader


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Officer Cherrie, a close second in the Sovereign Award voting for last year's champion 2-year-old filly, will meet American shipper Grace and Power at 1o1/16 miles in Sunday's $250,000 Selene Stakes at Woodbine.

Officer Cherrie won 3 of 4 starts at 2, including a pair of stakes. She overhauled the speedy Sovereign Award winner Dancing Allstar in the final strides of the six-furlong Ontario Debutante in August, and capped her campaign Sept. 29 with a victory around two turns in the Grade 3 Mazarine Breeders' Cup.

Officer Cherrie finished a non-threatening seventh under Patrick Husbands in her only start this year, the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. Trainer Mark Casse said she was too sharp in the early stages of the race.

"Patrick couldn't get her to relax, and she ran off," said Casse. "She flattened out a little, but a lot of our horses did that at Keeneland, and then they came back and won. We won three races last week at Churchill - all were the same scenario. It was a really tough race. There were two Grade 1 winners in the field. If I had gotten a race into her before the Beaumont, I think she would have been competitive in there."

Casse decided to pull the blinkers off Officer Cherrie for the Selene. "We want her to relax a little bit," he said. "She's doing super."

Casse was surprised that Officer Cherrie lost out on the Sovereign Award. "I thought the filly deserved it," he said.

Grace and Power, based in Maryland with trainer Steve Klesaris, was supplemented at a cost of $5,000. She did all of her earning in five route starts at 2. After winning her debut at Delaware, she won the listed Holly Stakes on the grass in September at the Meadowlands.

Grace and Power subsequently placed in two other turf stakes, and was a wide-closing second on Cushion Track when she shipped to the West Coast for the Grade 1 Hollywood Startlet. She ran fourth as the favorite in her lone outing this year, in the May 2 Edgewood Stakes on the turf at Churchill.

The Grade 3 Selene has lured seven other 3-year-old fillies, including Verdana Bold, who scored a 22-1 upset in the six-furlong Star Shoot Stakes here April 13. She was a weary ninth the only time she went long, in an allowance at Laurel in January.