07/22/2002 11:00PM

Old foes renew rivalry


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Feathers and Elektraline, the last two winners of the Grade 3 Bessarabian Handicap, will clash in Thursday's Woodbine feature, an $80,900 classified allowance.

The six-furlong sprint, for non-winners of $48,540 other than maiden or claiming in 2002, has drawn four other fillies and mares - Flashing Lil, Whistling Maid, Miss Sweep, and Sheila's Prospect.

Feathers polished off a stellar field in the 2000 Bessarabian, and was second to a sharp Elektraline in last year's running of that seven-furlong stakes. A 5-year-old, Feathers is winless in three starts this year, but is coming off two straight second-place finishes, in the Grade 3 George C. Hendrie Handicap and its allowance prep.

Trainer Ralph Biamonte opted to freshen up Feathers after the May 12 Hendrie, in which she was finished four lengths back of El Prado Essence.

"We gave her a little time off after her last race," said Biamonte. "She's had a little maintenance work, and has come back good. She had a black-letter work the other day, and she's usually not a [good] work horse," he added, noting that Feathers drilled a half-mile in a bullet 48.60 seconds over the training track on July 20.

Feathers is coupled with Miss Sweep, who has won two of her five starts at the meeting while competing mostly in optional claimers.

Biamonte said Miss Sweep's status for Thursday's race is up in the air.

"I entered Miss Sweep in a grass race, and 'iffed' her into this one when that other race didn't go," Biamonte explained. "I'm not sure if I'm going to run them both, but Feathers will definitely run."

Apprentice Chantal Sutherland was named on both Biamonte runners.

Elektraline, a multiple stakes winner in the United States under the guidance of trainer Scott Lake, is based locally with trainer Mike Wright Jr. A speedy 6-year-old, Elektraline is coming off three consecutive lackluster efforts, all in stakes.

Most recently here June 23, in her first start of the year in the Sweet Briar Too Stakes, Elektraline dueled up front with Devastating and El Prado Essence, before fading to fifth in a race she probably needed.

Sheila's Prospect is stepping up off two successive scores in optional claimers. A 4-year-old, Sheila's Prospect has banked nearly $200,000 since trainer Lorne Richards claimed her for $50,000 last summer.

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