07/09/2002 11:00PM

Scar hasn't affected Dark Fuse

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EDMONTON, Alberta - The second local stakes prep for the Aug. 24 Canadian Derby goes Saturday, and Dark Fuse will be one of the favorites after having won the $40,000 Western Canada impressively here June 29.

Dark Fuse, a 3-year-old Washington-bred, might never have raced at Northlands Park, except a scar on his leg front leg scared off potential buyers at a yearling sale in Washington.

"He's a very nice horse with good breeding, and if it wasn't for the scar on his knee he wouldn't even be here," said Ron Burrell, who trains Dark Fuse.

"From the same family, the cheapest sibling sold for $100,000, so we bought [Dark Fuse] over the phone sight unseen when he was still available after the sale. We've been very lucky, because he's a talented horse."

In May, Dark Fuse displayed that talent, winning the $40,000 President's Handicap at Stampede Park in Calgary. He was expected to challenge in the $100,000 Alberta Derby there June 15, but finished far behind Hastings Park import Lord Shogun in the 1 1/16-mile race.

That effort caused some observers to question whether Dark Fuse could handle distances of a mile and over, but Burrell says there were extenuating circumstances.

"Training-wise, he's shown he could have handled the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Alberta Derby," said Burrell. "But he was sick and we didn't know it. After the race he had a real high white count, which is a sign of infection in the body, but he still ran a pretty good race."

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