08/26/2004 12:00AM

'Sonic' set to defend his title

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Sonic West has won stakes in three states within the last year. A fourth could come as soon as Saturday.

As the defending champion in the $75,000 Governor's Handicap at Ellis Park, Sonic West will attempt to build on a resume and reputation that has made him one of the Midwest's more useful stakes runners, and if his jockey is correct, that goal is very likely to be met.

"I think when the Form comes out, people will see why he's the horse to beat in this race," said Willie Martinez, who has ridden Sonic West in each of the gelding's last six starts.

In his last start, ran fourth behind two of the nation's most accomplished handicap runners, Roses in May and Perfect Drift, in the July 3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows. Sonic West also has fared respectably against the likes of Peace Rules, Evening Attire, Crafty Shaw, and Yessirgeneralsir.

"Not to take anything away from the other horses in the race, but my horse has been running against some very good horses," said Martinez.

Based at Louisville Trackside with trainer Tom Van Berg, Sonic West already has traveled extensively to win three stakes in the last nine-plus months: the Mountaineer Mile at Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia last November; the Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn in Arkansas in March; and the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Handicap at Fonner Park in Nebraska in April.

A 5-year-old by West by West, Sonic West notched his first career stakes victory in the 2003 Governor's. He would have become a two-time stakes winner in Kentucky in December but was beaten a head in a long drive in the Prairie Bayou at Turfway Park.

The Governor's marks the fifth start at Ellis Park for Sonic West, who has two wins and a second at the track. "He's a good shipper, and he has shown he likes this track," said Martinez.

Sonic West will carry 118 pounds, second only to Ask the Lord (120) among a field of 10 entered in the one-mile Governor's. It was Ask the Lord who narrowly defeated Sonic West in the Prairie Bayou.

Besides Sonic West and Ask the Lord, who is coupled for wagering purposes with Discreet Hero, other logical contenders in the Governor's include Roar of the Tiger, Bold Legacy, and Added Edge.

First post is 12:40 p.m. Central. The Governor's, the first of three Ellis stakes that were recently cancelled then reinstated, is the ninth of 10 races.