Updated on 09/16/2011 9:33AM

Repeat no lock for Stage Classic


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stage Classic, a 4-year-old son of Sky Classic, will try to win the Grade 2, $279,500 Sky Classic Handicap for the second year in a row at Woodbine Sunday.

Stage Classic was prominent throughout the 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic in 2001, winning by a comfortable margin over older runners on yielding turf. Trainer Dave Cotey said he was somewhat surprised to see Stage Classic win that event.

"It was a thrill, because we didn't really expect him to take on older horses," Cotey said. "It was probably the best race he's run. I think it will be a tougher field this year."

Cotey's last comment hits the nail on the head. Four talented United States shippers are among the nine entrants this year - Cetewayo, Man From Wicklow, Gritty Sandie, and Good Boy Sam.

Cetewayo is an accomplished 8-year-old with over $1 million in the bank. Trained by Michael Dickinson, Cetewayo captured the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at 4, and has won 3 of 7 starts this year.

Dickinson, who won the 1996 Breeders' Cup Mile here with Da Hoss, said Cetewayo prefers firm turf, and he blamed the good ground for the horse's fourth-place finish Sept. 21 in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Handicap.

"It was very sticky at Kentucky Downs," Dickinson noted. "They had two inches of rain there overnight. I shouldn't have run him. He seems in good form now. He's in great spirits for an 8-year-old."

Man From Wicklow, trained by Rick Violette Jr., should be tough off his third-place finish behind With Anticipation and Balto Star in the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont. He was beaten just two lengths when he ran fourth in his previous outing, the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, in which Cetewayo finished seventh.

Gritty Sandie, who finished sixth in the 1999 Canadian International, snapped out of a slump three weeks ago, winning a Belmont allowance for trainer Jim Toner.

Good Boy Sam won two straight conditioned allowances in mid-summer for trainer Gary Sciacca, and finished on the edges in each of his last two outings, including the Grade 2 Belmont BC Handicap.

Among the locals entered is the Sam-Son Farm entry of Strut the Stage and Full of Wonder.

Strut the Stage has been a disappointment since he captured the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico in May, while Full of Wonder was a non-factor last out in the Grade 1 Canadian International.

o Krz Ruckus and Runaway Love head Sunday's supporting feature, the $105,000 Mt. Sassafras Stakes.

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