08/13/2003 12:00AM

Options for Lakeville include facing males


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - When nominations for Sunday's Minnesota Festival of Champions were announced this past weekend, last year's champion filly Lakeville was cross-nominated in the Distaff Classic and the Minnesota Classic.

Running against males is an attractive option for her connections, owner Cam Casby and trainer Bruce Riecken, because the of $40,000-added purse of the Classic is higher than the Distaff purse and because many of her potential male rivals are cross-entered among the Classic, Sprint, and Turf races in this year's Festival, meaning that the Classic field should be a reasonable size.

The Minnesota Festival of Champions comprises seven stakes for Minnesota-breds. topped by the Northern Lights Futurity and Northern lights Debutante, which both offer purses of $50,000-added.

The runners who line up against McKenna Beach in this year's Northern Lights Debutante probably wish they had other options. An impressive winner of the Minnesota Juvenile Sprint last out, McKenna Beach should be heavily favored in the Northern Lights Debutante.

* The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association hosted its annual yearling sale at Canterbury Park on Saturday night with 40 hips cataloged. - and it didn't take long for the bidding to heat up.

Hip No. 5, a colt by Marquetry from the stakes-placed mare Get Down Girl, sparked a protracted bidding skirmish that lasted several minutes, with Philip Maas of Bloomington, Minn., eventually proving successful for $50,000.

The MTA yearling sale posted higher returns than last year - when the sales topper was $22,000 - selling 22 yearlings for a total of $192,600, an average of $8,755.