08/14/2008 12:00AM

Shortgrass highlights Heritage stakes day


SASKATOON, Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan-born runners take center stage at Marquis Downs on Saturday with four $20,000 Heritage stakes races. There are two races for each gender at ages 2 and 3, and the Shortgrass Heritage for 3-year-old colts and geldings looks like the race of the day.

Run at a mile, the Shortgrass features last year’s provincial 2-year-old champion, Brilliant Action, facing off against Chief Shaheen, the recent 3-year-old Sales Stakes winner.

Brilliant Action was 3 for 3 here last year and scored wins in the Western Heritage and the Harlequin stakes. But in three starts in 2008, Brilliant Action has been beaten 14 lengths or more in each outing, although the past two have been against older allowance foes.

Chief Shaheen finished nine lengths ahead of Brilliant Action when second in the Early’s Farm and Garden Handicap. Most recently, Chief Shaheen wired the field in the seven-furlong Sales Stakes and is a threat to do the same here.

The Western Heritage for juvenile males, run over six furlongs, is essentially a rematch between J C’s Action and King Rose. The two made their debuts two weeks ago in the Harlequin and fought tooth and nail from post to pillar. J C’s Action eventually scored a length victory over King Rose, who was 19 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.

The one-mile Parkland Heritage for 3-year-old fillies looks like a three-horse race among Laura E., Strawberry Sheen and Fiesty Cheetah.

Laura E. arrives from the tougher Alberta “A” circuit and has a pair of sprint victories to her credit from four starts in 2008. However, Laura E. faded badly in her most recent effort and ended seventh, 11 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Strawberry Sheen and Fiesty Cheetah have faced each other three times in 2008 with Strawberry Sheen finishing ahead of Fiesty Cheetah twice. Neither has won a race this year but Fiesty Cheetah defeated Strawberry Sheen by eight lengths last year in the Gold Strike Stakes.

The Woodland Heritage, over six furlongs, has a field of nine 2-year old fillies, all maidens. Express Bound, Striking Royale and Hawk de Diamond all placed in their most recent starts, all when running a half-mile sprint. First-time starter Dancewithaprincess sports solid works and may be ready to score.