04/25/2002 12:00AM

One of two can pass $1M mark

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Who wants to be a millionaire? A victory in Saturday's $165,000 Vigil Handicap at Woodbine by either Wake at Noon or Win City will push that horse's earnings past the $1 million mark.

Wake at Noon, the 123-pound highweight, should be favored in the seven-furlong dash, even though Win City is Canada's reigning Horse of the Year.

Wake at Noon has won both of his starts this year with workmanlike efforts. He took the Briartic Handicap by three-quarters of a length on Woodbine's opening day and prevailed by three lengths over a fading Olympian three weeks ago in the Jacques Cartier Stakes.

Wake at Noon averaged a Beyer Speed Figure of 111 in his first three starts of 2001, but earned Beyer Figures of just 97 and 99 in his two outings this year. His trainer, Abraham Katryan, acknowledged that Wake at Noon isn't quite as brilliant as he once was.

"He's showing signs that he's not a push-button horse like he used to be," Katryan said. "He's been settling before coming from off the pace and making his run. He was hard-ridden in the Jacques Cartier, but I guess that's just the way he is now. He came out of it good. He's back to his regular self."

Katryan's main goal this year is to make Wake at Noon Canada's champion sprinter, an award he seemed destined to win last year before he tailed off in the fall.

Win City, who also garnered the Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old in 2001, is making his first start since he beat older rivals Nov. 10 in the Autumn Handicap. He won three straight stakes last spring, including the Queenston and the Plate Trial, and was second as the favorite to Dancethruthedawn in the Queen's Plate.

Win City avenged his Plate loss by defeating Dancethruthedawn in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. He also captured the McLaughlin Handicap in 2001, and was third in both the Durham Cup and Achievement handicaps.

Trainer Bob Tiller said Win City will leg up for future engagements, such as the May 11 Eclipse Handicap, in the Vigil.

"We're using this as a prep for distance races," Tiller explained. "He won the Queenston last year going seven-eighths, but that was after he went six furlongs in the Achievement. He's in great shape."

Completing the field for the Grade 3 event will be Dream Launcher, Hunter Todd, On the Game, Wicklow Highlands, Exciting Story, and Geraint.

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