12/03/2001 12:00AM

Sovereign finalists

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Exciting Story and Numerous Times, both Grade 1 stakes winners this year, head the list of Sovereign Award finalists released by the Jockey Club of Canada on Monday morning.

The divisional winners, plus the Horse of the Year finalists and winner, will be announced at the 27th annual Sovereign Awards gala at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel on Dec. 14.

Voters from across Canada were asked to list their top three choices in each category, and points were awarded on a 4-2-1 basis. To be eligible, horses must have made three starts in Canada this season by Nov. 18. The deadline for the return of ballots was Nov. 26.

Exciting Story, a Florida-bred 4-year-old owned and bred by Harry T. Mangurian Jr. and trained by Mark Casse, upset Belmont's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile in May and is a finalist in both the older horse and sprinter categories.

Numerous Times, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old owned by The Committee Stable and trained by Sid Attard, won Woodbine's Atto Mile in September and is a leading contender in the turf horse category. His opponents include Quiet Resolve, who was Canada's Horse of the Year and champion turf male in 2000, and Strut the Stage, who was beaten a nose as the runner-up in Arlington's Grade 1 Secretariat.

Both Quiet Resolve and Strut the Stage are trained by Mark Frostad and owned by Sam-Son Farm, who also are represented by Dancethruthedawn, winner of the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and Queen's Plate, in the 3-year-old filly division; Catch the Ring, who was last year's champion 3-year-old filly, and Mountain Angel in the older filly-mare category; and Only to You on the turf filly-mare list.

Sam-Son Farm also is looking for its seventh award as outstanding owner and fourth as outstanding breeder, and their Dance Smartly is up for the outstanding broodmare award.

Frostad, winner of the outstanding trainer award in 1999 and 2000, is a finalist this year along with Bob Tiller and Ron K. "Red" Smith.

Tiller was the leading trainer at Woodbine with 62 winners. His stable star, Win City, won six stakes and is the leading contender in the 3-year-old colt or gelding division.

Smith topped the standings at both the Stampede Park and Northlands Park meetings and trains Fancy As, who won seven stakes while competing in Western Canada and is the chief threat to Win City in their division.

Tiller also is represented by both Highland Mood and Meadow Gem in the 3-year-old filly division and by Rare Friends, a three-time stakes winner, in the 2-year-old colt or gelding category.

Frank DiGiulio Jr., owner of Win City and co-owner of Rare Friends, also is a finalist in his category.

Both 2-year-old categories also feature Grade 1 winners. Changeintheweather, a colt, captured the Grey while Lady Shari, a filly, took the Mazarine, both races being run at Woodbine.

Todd Kabel will be looking for his third Sovereign Award as outstanding jockey after riding 145 winners and dethroning Patrick Husbands as Woodbine's leading rider. Husbands had been the Woodbine leader and the Sovereign winner in 1999 and 2000.

Chantal Sutherland, Woodbine's top apprentice jockey, and Leanne Noel, Alberta's leading apprentice prior to winding up her campaign on a successful note at Woobine, are the leading candidates for honors in their category.