07/14/2001 12:00AM

Saturday Stakes Recap


Fair Apache wins fair fight in Valkyr

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fair Apache was up for a fight in Saturday's $71,625 Valkyr Handicap at Hollywood Park.

After leading by a length on the backstretch, Fair Apache was challenged on the turn by Global, but fought through the stretch to win by a head.

Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, Fair Apache ($5.60) ran 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:02.05. A 5-year-old mare, Fair Apache set fractions of 22.25 and 44.26 seconds before being challenged by Global.

"She's just steady," Delahoussaye said. "She finishes like she'll kick on, but she keeps that same pace."

Global, trained by Jack Carava, finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Warren's Whistle, who was followed by Kinky Kinky and Dusty Heather, the 8-5 favorite, who faded through the stretch.

The Valkyr, restricted to California-bred fillies and mares, was Fair Apache's first stakes win since she was acquired last summer by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez and turned over to trainer Christopher Paasch.

Paasch told Delahoussaye to urge Fair Apache through the lane.

I said, "Once you ask her, really ask her," Paasch said. "She's kind of a stubborn filly. She's game."

Fair Apache has won 9 of 22 starts and $247,981. Paasch mentioned the $125,000 Royal North Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Woodbine on Aug. 4 as a possible next start.

- Steve Andersen

Monmouth: Piazza wire to wire

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Piazza di Spagna and jockey Chuck Lopez teamed up for a front-running victory in the $75,000 Inside Information Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

A 5-year-old mare, Piazza di Spagna shipped in for owner-trainer Rene Araya after two easy claiming wins at Belmont Park. She made the lead early in the mile turf race and never looked back, giving Lopez three wins on the afternoon.

"I bought her in Chile because that's where I'm from," said Araya. "She's doing very well now. It takes them time to get acclimated. I have had a lot of success with Chilean horses, and I won races at Monmouth with them before."

Piazza di Spagna paid $8.60 and finished the mile in 1:34.44 on a firm turf course.

"The only thing I had to do was not fall off," said Lopez. "She did the rest."

Mumtaz rallied in the stretch to get second and Arty'svirginiagirl held third. Efficient Frontier, the

2-1 favorite, faded to last after stalking the leader to the top of the stretch.

Lopez also scored with Sardukar ($12.80) in the $50,000 Bet Twice Stakes.

The Alan Goldberg-trained Sardaukar shipped in from Hollywood and got his second straight victory for owner R.D. Hubbard. I'm Sentimental was second and Crash Course was third.

- Rowland Hoyt

Woodbine: Strut the Stage does

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Heavily Favored Strut the Stage took the $132,375 Grade 3 Toronto Cup Handicap Saturday at Woodbine with ease under Todd Kabel.

Legal Heir and Stage Classic dueled through fractions of 23.38 seconds and 46.03 in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. Strut the Stage stalked Legal Heir and Stage Classic while three wide and joined the leaders midway on the turn.

Strut the Stage got the three-quarter split in 1:10.19, before coasting home on top by 3 1/4 lengths under a hand ride. Stage Classic finished eight lengths clear of Legal Heir in second, while Crown's Prospect trailed the four-horse field. The final time was 1:47.91.

"He was much the best today," said Kabel. "I was just hanging on. He's a special horse."

Strut the Stage banked $83,396 of the $132,375 purse for Sam-Son Farm. He returned $2.20, winning his fourth race in five career starts for trainer Mark Frostad.

- Ron Gierkink

Thistledown: Lady Cherie, ooh la la

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Lady Cherie circled rivals quickly on the second turn and went on to a one-length victory over five Ohio-bred rivals in the $75,000, nine-furlong Rose DeBartolo Memorial for fillies and mares, giving trainer Michael Nance a sweep of the Ohio stakes on Saturday. The Nance-trained Lane Lorrain had won the Cincinnatian stakes at River Downs a half-hour earlier.

Lady Cherie checked a bit under Julio Felix going into the first turn. She then saved ground until the middle of the second turn when Felix angled her widest of all. She was timed in 1:52.70 over the fast racing strip.

Ms. Quimet finished second, 6 3/4 lengths clear of Prizes. Lady Cherie returned $5.60 as the favorite.

- Chuck Scaravilli