06/27/2003 11:00PM

Second tier 3-year-olds get chance

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EDMONTON, Alberta - It's no secret that Taiaslew is the dominant performer in this region as the 3-year-olds continue to sort themselves out on the path to the the Aug. 23 Canadian Derby.

But who are the tough ones in the second flight? That question may be answered in Tuesday's Western Canada Handicap, at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Topweighted at 119 pounds is Cool Bender, with Ron Blinston aboard.

Cool Bender has won four races, three of them this year, including the Golden Boy as the odds-on favorite at Assiniboia Downs. He finished fourth and third, respectively, when defeated by Taiaslew this spring in the President's and Hoofprint on My Heart.

Judge Ruckus, who was third in the Winnipeg Futurity last year, was runner-up in the President's and seventh in the Hoofprint on My Heart.

Trained by Dale Saunders, Judge Ruckus is coming off a runner-up finish in an allowance in the mud as the 9-5 favorite.

Diablo Contento was second to Taiaslew last year in the Birdcatcher and third in the Edmonton Juvenile. He has won one of four starts this year, racing in allowance and optional claiming company.

Rindanica won his maiden at first asking last year and after a pair of thirds in allowances he added a six-length triumph this year. He then was a distant third in the Alberta Derby.

Shawteesh comes into his fourth consecutive stakes race after a second in the Hoofprint on My Heart, a third in the President's, and a fifth in the Alberta Derby.