12/01/2008 12:00AM

Sand Cove tests stakes streak

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ontario Derby winner Sand Cove will try to extend his unbeaten streak in stakes to four races Wednesday in the $125,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile event for Ontario-sired runners.

Sand Cove has been the most improved 3-year-old at Woodbine this year. He was an ordinary Ontario-sired allowance competitor during the spring, but he began to turn the corner when he captured a second-level allowance route in July.

Sand Cove notched his first stakes win Aug. 31, in the one-mile Vice Regent, and is coming off another stakes score on turf, in the one-mile Bunty Lawless.

Sand Cove ran the race of his life Sept. 28 on the Polytrack, in the nine-furlong Ontario Derby. He put away Catch Air on the front end and then held off a closing Secret Getaway to win by a neck while receiving a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Secret Getaway won Saturday's Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds.

"He developed all the way through the year," trainer Roger Attfield said of Sand Cove. "He got better and better and became more professional. He's turned into a very nice horse."

Attfield said Sand Cove's versatility is one of his main assets.

"He's the kind of horse that you can do whatever you want with him," Attfield said. "He can run on the lead. He can come from off it. He runs on the turf and the Polytrack. I don't know about the dirt, but I'm sure he can handle it. He just takes control of the situation, depending on what happens in the race. He's a very nice horse to ride."

Sand Cove worked three-quarters in a sizzling 1:10.60 on the Polytrack on Nov. 23. "He worked very fast, but I guess the track was very fast," Attfield said.

Dancer's Bajan was a non-threatening third in last year's Sir Barton at the end of his 3-year-old campaign. He has won two Ontario-sired stakes this year, the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth and the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton.

Dancer's Bajan ran flat in his two most recent outings, both in seven-furlong stakes, finishing fifth in the Overskate and fourth in the Mt. Sassafras.

"I wasn't happy with his last two races," trainer Bob Tiller said. "He's had a little freshening and is doing well."

Executive Choice lost the 2006 Sir Barton by a neck and was victorious in last year's renewal after pressing the pace. He could be the pacemaker Wednesday.