08/05/2003 11:00PM

A rematch is brewing

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The top two finishers from last Monday's Manitoba Derby could be headed for a rematch in the $150,000 Canadian Derby at Edmonton's Northlands Park on Aug. 23, which would make for a smashing horse race.

The winner of the Manitoba Derby, Hero's Pleasure, is just learning how to run, while the horse he beat, Taiaslew, set too fast a pace and then found out just how long the Assiniboia Downs stretch is.

Taiaslew won't have that problem when he's back on the bullring at Northlands, where races are won on the lead into a short stretch.

Hero's Pleasure upset even-money favorite Taiaslew by a length at odds of 8-1 in the Grade 3 Manitoba Derby, and while he did have the advantage of stalking a sizzling pace, it was the way he won that indicates he's becoming a professional racehorse.

After advancing steadily outside on the turn and coming wide into the stretch, he trailed Taiaslew by five lengths. He went after him with determination to score his win.

"This horse is still learning how to run," said Doug Oliver, who trains Hero's Pleasure for Jean Duke of Eatonton, Ga. "He used to run off all the time when we first got him. But [jockey] Scott Stevens said he could straighten him out and get him to run. He did."

Some of the credit for calming down Hero's Pleasure also has to go to his groom, Alfonso Martinez, who has looked after the horse for the past year.

Hero's Pleasure's may also have been aided by his pedigree. By 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero out of a Lord Rebeau mare, Hero's Pleasure has the stamina to go the 1 3/8 miles of the Canadian Derby.

What Taiaslew's pedigree lacks in stamina, he makes up for with speed and talent.

"He probably ran the best race he's ever run," said trainer Greg Tracy. "The fractions he set were at least a full second faster than the fractions for the other stakes on the card. I knew he was in trouble after the first quarter of 22.80 and a half in 46.80. You just can't go that fast early over that track and expect to finish going a mile and an eighth.

"He's tired, but he came back good. We were 3 1/2 lengths in front of Pants N Kisses, who is a stakes winner at Woodbine."