08/31/2001 11:00PM

Saturday Stakes Roundup


Honor Glide tops American one-two punch

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Honor Glide turned back a stretch bid from another American shipper, Royal Strand, to capture Saturday's

Grade 2 $335,100 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

Robbie Davis rode Honor Glide, who assumed command from front-runners Wolvspa and Strike Smartly heading into the far turn of the 1 1/2-mile turf race. Favored Royal Strand tracked Honor Glide on the far turn and drew even with him in midstretch, but Honor Glide repelled the challenge and drew off for a three-length win in 2:26.52. Strike Smartly re-rallied to miss second by a nose.

Honor Glide ($6.60) earned $201,060 for owners Robert Schaedle and Bonnie Heath Farm. Christophe Clement trains the winner, a 7-year-old who spent his formative years at Woodbine with trainer Jim Day.

* Free Vacation won the $101,000 Flaming Page Handicap for the second straight year.

* Heavily favored Exciting Story, winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May, was upset by Praise From Dixie in a $67,200 classified allowance.

- Ron Gierkink

River Downs: Local filly scores

CINCINNATI - In a field full of highly regarded shippers, it was a local filly, Joanies Bella, who stole the show in the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes at River Downs.

Ridden by Craig Perret, who was making his first-ever appearance at River in a career of over 30 years, Joanies Bella took command on the turn of the six-furlong Bassinet, then turned back the 6-5 favorite, Lakeside Cup, to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths.

Joanies Bella, an Ohio-bred by Mercer Mill, returned $6.80 as third choice in a field of eight 2-year-old fillies. Mystery at Sea, one of five starters based at Churchill Downs, finished third, another five lengths back. Bema, the 2-1 second choice under Shane Sellers, was never a serious threat when finishing fifth.

Joanies Bella, now a winner in three of six starts, is owned by Dan Martin and Gerald Ayers.

"We'll look at the Arlington-Washington Lassie as a possible next start," said winning trainer Tim Hamm, who is based at Thistledown. "Then there are always some Ohio spots."

Longshot Jamac's Prospect led early, tracked closely by Joanies Bella, with Lakeside Cup tucked in nicely in third. Hamm told Perret "that if I could get her to relax, she'd do some running for me," said Perret. "That's what she did."

Joanies Bella finished in 1:12.20 over a fast track to earn easily her richest payday of $60,000.

The Bassinet, one of River's premier races, was won last year by eventual divisional champion Caressing.

- Marty McGee

Arlington: 'Vicki' handles class rise

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Maiden claiming horses swept the top two spots in the $75,000 Top Flight Stakes at Arlington, as Vicki Vallencourt just got up to beat Don't Ruffle Me by a head. Both 2-year-old fillies had started but once before, each winning a $50,000 maiden-claiming race at Arlington.

In fact, Vicki Vallencourt's trainer, Hugh Robertson, came close to waiting for an easier spot with his horse, but chose to tackle a short field lacking a standout. It was a good call.

Racing well off the early pace, Vicki Vallencourt, ridden by Rene Douglas, swept into contention while wide, and gradually wore down Don't Ruffle Me in the final furlong.

Both horses stayed on the outside on a day when the Arlington rail was dead. Early leader Desert Sage, who broke from post 1, and favored Honest Deceiver, who broke from post 2, contested the early pace, and wound up finishing sixth and eighth, respectively. Don't Ruffle Me stalked the early leaders and swept to the lead turning for home, but was unable to contain the winner.

Vicki Vallencourt ($23.20), owned by Ron and Ricki Rishinski, ran six furlongs in 1:11.77 over a fast track. Strong Credentials was the only short-priced horse to hit the board, finishing third, five lengths behind Don't Ruffle Me.

The Top Flight serves as a prep for the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie later this month, but Robertson was hesitant to commit his filly to that race.

- Marcus Hersh

Delaware: Turf rejuvenates Key Lory

Key Lory ($6.80) has discovered the fountain of youth on turf. A

7-year-old gelding who was winless on dirt for over two years, Key Lory won his second stakes since switching to grass in the $100,600 Sussex Handicap at Delaware Park.

Ridden by Harry Vega and trained by Dennis Manning, Key Lory dueled with Lightning Paces for the first six furlongs of the nine-furlong Sussex, then shook clear on the far turn and drove to a 1 1/2-length victory over runner-up Warrant. His time over a firm course was 1:49.93.

Multiple graded stakes winner Cetewayo, making his first start since winning the Red Smith Handicap last November, finished fifth in a field of seven as the 4-5 favorite.

John's Call was among three horses to scratch on race day. Trainer Tom Voss was unavailable for comment on the reason for withdrawing the 10-year-old.

- Joe DeVivo

Thistledown: Scioto Bootski scores

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Scioto Bootski kept her lifetime record unblemished as she stepped into the stakes division and posted a 2 3/4-length win over her eight 3-year-old Ohio-bred rivals in the $40,000 Ohio Debutante Handicap at Thistledown.

Eye Slew the City finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of Ashwood C C, the 3-2 favorite.

Scioto Bootski ($13.40), trained by Albert Palacios, registered her third win under a heady ride by Hector Rosario Jr. He allowed his mount to give up the early lead to Eye Slew the City, then urged her on again to make the lead at the eighth pole and she won going away while running the six furlongs in 1:10.50.

- Chuck Scaravilli

Ellis: Star Queen upsets

While favored Golden Antigua was trapped along the rail, Star Queen surged to the lead in midstretch and went on to victory in the $50,000 Dade Turf Classic at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

Ridden by James Lopez, Star Queen ($16.40) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.56 over a soft turf course. Fast Delivery was a late-running third in a field of 11 fillies and mares.

In their last meeting, at Arlington, Golden Antigua won at 7-1, with Star Queen second as the 2-1 favorite.

The Dade Classic effectively reversed that result, much to the delight of winning owner Highland Farm and trainer Pete Salmen Jr.

- Marty McGee