05/21/2003 11:00PM

Red Sea dangerous on his best game

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Red Sea, victorious in a division of the 2001 Connaught Cup Stakes, should be a major force in this year's running of the Grade 3 turf race Saturday at Woodbine.

Red Sea has had his share of ups and downs since his Connaught Cup win, according to trainer Roger Attfield. Attfield purchased the 7-year-old late in 2001 from the estate of Prince Fahd Salman, and then laid him up until last September.

"He was pretty worn out when I bought him," Attfield said, "but he's rebounded well."

Red Sea won a $50,000 claiming race in October and the Labeeb Stakes here in November. He subsequently finished third in the Grade 2 Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream, but then ran two clunkers, in a Gulfstream allowance race and in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes.

"I don't know what happened at Tampa," Attfield said. "He was just a flat horse that day."

Red Sea most recently finished third behind Del Mar Show and Proud Man in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Keeneland.

"He ran well at Keeneland the other day," Attfield said. "It was a very tough allowance race, and he made a good showing of himself."

Attfield is content with Red Sea's physical condition.

"I think he's in really good shape," Attfield said. "He's been working on a regular basis. He's a pretty nice horse when he's on his game."

Rounding out the field for the $173,550 Connaught are Silver Spear, Solitary Dancer, Tails of the Crypt, Anglian Prince, Le Cinquieme Essai, Academic, Stage Classic, Union Place, Mr. Sulu, Fly Smartly, and Gone Fishin.

Le Cinquieme Essai, last year's Canadian champion 3-year-old, is making his first start since finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind in fifth in the Nov. 3 Labeeb. Based at Fort Erie with trainer Paul Nielsen, he won four of six starts, on dirt and turf, in 2002, including the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

Union Place, trained by Randy Schulhofer, won the Grade 3 Calder Derby in October while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 104. He won a third-level allowance race at Gulfstream in his penultimate outing, but could only manage seventh as the favorite in a May 11 allowance race at Belmont.

Fly Smartly has finished third in both of his starts this year, including a third-level allowance race at Keeneland, which was won by Perfect Soul. Mark Frostad trains.