05/07/2002 11:00PM

Sayler, Singh open title defense

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - A spring snowstorm greeted 2,432 customers at Assiniboia Downs last Sunday when the 2002 meeting opened.

Trainer Ardell Sayler and jockey Rohan Singh began their quest for a third consecutive defense of their respective local titles by winning two races each Sunday. But Jacques DesAutels had the best day of the jockeys, winning four of the eight races.

Newcomer Juan Crawford made a favorable first impression, finishing second on 20-1 Lulu Rose in the first race and third on 53-1 Sharp Selene in the finale. Crawford has mounts in six of the eight races when racing resumes here Friday at 7 p.m.

* Five fillies and mares meet in Friday's featured first race, a five-furlong conditioned allowance. Probable favorite Regal Mark, owned and trained by Ken Bell, should have a fitness edge over her opponents, having raced twice at Stampede Park in April.

Robert Skelly will be aboard Regal Mark, who breaks from the outside and probably will have to catch Song of Hope. Trained by Tim Elison, Song of Hope will break from post 4 under Tim Gardiner.