07/04/2002 12:00AM

Robertson king of Canterbury turf


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Hugh Robertson's stable has been tough to beat in stakes over the Canterbury Park turf course this meet. His Chicago-based outfit has always maintained a presence at Canterbury, but this season its presence has been magnified as Robertson has won three of the first four grass stakes offered at the meet.

Mac Robertson, who oversees his father's Canterbury string, will have his hands full Saturday after entering three horses in the $35,000 Minnesota HBPA Mile for fillies and mares on the turf.

Saturday's card also includes the $35,000 Minnesota HBPA Sprint for 3-year-olds and upward at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Perhaps the most accomplished starter of the Robertson's three-horse uncoupled entry in the HBPA Mile is Twilight Tryst, who finished a close second in the Pago Hop at Fair Grounds in December. The 4-year-old Twilight Tryst has since returned to win an optional claiming race at Hawthorne and her steady work tab since that outing suggests she will be ready to fire her best effort. Chris Emigh will make the trip from Chicago for the mount.

Twelve runners on the tight 7 1/2-furlong course might compromise Twilight Tryst's late-closing style, making Canterbury Oaks winner Sarah Jade an obvious choice to upset her stablemate. Sarah Jade can either set or stalk the early pace and keeps the services of Seth Martinez.

Oglala Sue, who is also entered in the Falls Amiss Handicap for Nebraska-breds at Lincoln on Saturday, is the third Robertson entrant in the Mile. She has a steady, off-the-pace style that could prove effective in her second try over the turf.

Moonlit Maddie, Cheri's Truth and last year's champion older mare at Canterbury Park, Picnic Spread, all loom as upset possibilities.

* Expert should be favored over five rivals in the HBPA Sprint following his recent allowance victory in which he missed the track record by less than a fifth of a second. Expert has won three of four starts over the Canterbury main track and hasn't been beaten since finishing a troubled second in the Bob Feller Stakes at Prairie Meadows in May. Seth Martinez is Expert's regular rider.

The new shooter in the Sprint is Medium Rare, who ships in from Prairie Meadows. Medium Rare finished fourth in the Bob Feller after also enduring a troubled trip. Leading rider Derek Bell takes the call.

Exert, Loco Tavares, Big Daddy Tee, and Blue Launch round out the Sprint field.

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