09/20/2004 11:00PM

Sky Diamond has stepped up

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sky Diamond will look to extend his win streak to three races in Thursday's Woodbine headliner, an $80,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up.

Sky Diamond was an inconsistent sprinter when owner Roger Patten and trainer Sid Attard claimed him from Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad for $35,000 on July 11. He ended up sixth that day, finishing some 10 lengths behind the winner, X Box.

Attard tested Sky Diamond around two turns for the first time in his career Aug. 15, and watched the gelding triumph in a romp after leading all the way in a $40,000 conditioned claimer.

Sky Diamond took his game to another level in an allowance Sept. 4, when he set uncontested fractions before drawing off in the stretch for a 6 3/4-length tally. His 93 Beyer Figure was three points higher than what he earned in his previous outing.

Sky Diamond figures to encounter some pace pressure Thursday, and it will be interesting to see whether he can handle it.

Among the others entered in the 1 1/16-mile feature are Parose, Dance Engagement, and Ide Be Gone.

Parose, a popular 10-year-old with more than $1 million in earnings, should be closing prominently under leading rider Todd Kabel. Parose has won graded stakes here and in western Canada, where he commenced his career, and has ground out a good living in recent years under the guidance of trainer Sandy McPherson.

Parose won an optional claimer here in June and at Fort Erie in July, and then finished fifth in the Seagram Cup Stakes. Last time, in a $62,500 optional claimer, he rallied wide to finish a head back of Dance Engagement in second.

Dance Engagement, trained by Malcolm Pierce, had a slow beginning to his season. He woke up at 13-1 on Aug. 28, beating Parose and Strike Em Hard, an improving 3-year-old, after a pace-pressing trip.

Jim McAleney inherits the mount on Dance Engagement from Patrick Husbands, who is sticking with Sky Diamond.

Ide Be Gone has proven to be well worth the $60,000 he was claimed for last fall by trainer Bob Tiller.

Ide Be Gone won a preliminary allowance in his second appearance at the meeting, and only needed two chances to crack the second allowance category. He was beaten just a half-length when second in the restricted Izvestia Stakes on Aug. 21, and is coming off a troubled runner-up placing in a seven-furlong optional claimer.