09/18/2003 11:00PM

Rivals need their best to beat Miss Noire


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Miss Noire will be a strong favorite to defend her title here in Sunday's $60,000 Matron Breeders' Cup at Assiniboia.

The 1 1/8-mile Matron has a field of eight fillies and mares.

Miss Noire, owned by Harlequin Ranches and trained by Tom Dodds, will use her speed to try to make it three wins in a row after she wired solid allowance fields in her last two.

Regular rider Jerry Pruitt, who also piloted Miss Noire to a front-running win in the 2002 Matron at 18-1, will be back aboard.

Remiewaterbluz, owned by Well-Being Stable and trained by Clayton Gray, has a shot at upsetting, but she will likely need someone to go after Miss Noire early.

A 4-year-old filly by Lucky So n'So, Remiewaterbluz has run some big races this year, including a win in the July 1 Canada Day Stakes going a mile, but she will need that type of performance on Sunday to defeat Miss Noire.

Remiewaterbluz has finished third, beaten 6 1/2 lengths and then 8 3/4 lengths by Miss Noire, in her last two, with Beausox taking the runner-up spot in both of those races. Juan Crawford, who has won three races aboard Remiewaterbluz this year, takes the call.

Beausox won last year's 1 1/8-mile Assiniboia Oaks over Miss Noire by coming from just off the pace and taking over into the stretch, but she went on to finish fourth in the 2002 Matron.

Although Beausox has not been able to find the winner's circle in six starts this year, she has been prepping well for this race, as evidenced by her pair of second-place finishes.

Trained by Karline Hunter for Jim McFadyen, Beausox will be ridden for the first time by Jason Leacock.

If they are going to beat Miss Noire, then someone will have to take some sting out of her early. That task could be left up to someone in the remainder of the field, which includes Artic Sonnet, Pete's Surprise, Northlands Park shipper Candy Flute, and Stolen Sheena.

But even in her last race, when Miss Noire was left in the gate at the break, she still opened up and wired her field. She's tough to beat.