09/03/2004 11:00PM

Sam-Son poses triple threat


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sam-Son Farm's trio of Strut the Stage, Colorful Judgement, and Longship will make up half the field in Monday's $324,000 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

The Grade 2 Niagara will be run at 1 1/2 miles, or around one lap of the expansive E.P. Taylor turf course.

Strut the Stage defeated a quality field that included Better Talk Now and Bowman Mill in the 2003 Niagara, giving Sam-Son its sixth victory in the race.

Strut the Stage ran strongly when he returned from a 10-month layoff on July 25 in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes. He was stalled in traffic on the far turn of that 1 3/8-mile event and closed on the outside to finish third behind Shoal Water and Mobil.

Trainer Mark Frostad said he was satisfied with Strut the Stage's comeback performance.

"He had been off a long time," Frostad said. "He was glad to get back to it. He enjoyed that."

Colorful Judgement, victorious in the 2003 Chief Bearhart Stakes, is coming off a second-level allowance win at 1 3/8 miles.

Longship figures to be the rabbit for Strut the Stage.

Control Tower has run two respectable races since joining Malcolm Pierce's barn in the spring, and should be a factor.

Following a 10-month layoff on July 1, Control Tower finished third going a mile in a $100,000 optional claimer. Last time, in the Chinese Cultural Centre, he saved ground in a stalking position, and then hung a little to finish three lengths back in fourth.

"I was quite happy with his last race," Pierce said. "I thought he could have been third, but Strut the Stage just got by us in the last 70 yards."

Pierce said he was looking for an easier spot for Control Tower, but opted for the Niagara because of the small field and the absence of any American shippers.

Wholelottabourbon will be favored in Monday's supporting feature, the $106,000 Silver Deputy Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

Wholelottabourbon, based at Fort Erie with trainer Nick Gonzalez, exits a 4 1/2-length tally in the six-furlong Colin Stakes.

"He matured really fast, and breezed well right from the very beginning," Gonzalez said. "He got sick in March when he was at Woodbine, which was good for us, because he got it out of the way. He didn't have any setbacks after that. He's a good-feeling horse, and his conformation is great."