11/29/2001 1:00AM

Sprint has double dash of class


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winners El Prado Essence and Except for Wanda head Friday's Woodbine feature, a $67,200 allowance for fillies and mares.

A five-horse field was drawn for the seven-furlong dash, which is limited to nonwinners of $40,320 other than maiden or claiming since Oct. 1.

El Prado Essence won her first stakes, the Seaway on Sept. 7, by a neck while handing heavily favored Meadow Gem her first loss. She ran seven furlongs in 1:24.20, which was good for a 94 Beyer Figure.

El Prado Essence affirmed her dislike for the grass two starts ago in a classified allowance won by Except for Wanda. Most recently in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion Handicap, she ended up a length short of Feathers in second after a four-wide stalking trip over a track with an inside bias.

El Prado Essence has had a month off heading into this engagement, and is reunited with regular rider Patrick Husbands after a one-race absence. She is owned by Gordon Cappuccitti and trainer Audre Cappuccitti.

Turf specialist Except for Wanda got her 15 minutes of fame when she won last year's Grade 3 Dance Smartly Handicap at 21-1. Her lone victory in eight appearances this year came on Sept. 28, in an allowance race in which she beat Heliotrope, the 2000 champion filly or mare on turf.

Except for Wanda was a non-threatening seventh in the Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland in October, and is coming off a fifth-place finish over yielding ground here in the River Memories Stakes.

Except for Wanda has a surprisingly good main-track record. She finished just 1 3/4 lengths back of El Prado Essence when third in her seasonal bow on dirt on the Sweet Briar Too Stakes.

Jim McAleney rides for owner George Richter and trainer Bruce Smither.

Rounding out the field are Branksome Hall, Prado Star, and Press Exclusive.

Press Exclusive, the fastest runner in the field, has won 5 of 8 starts this year while banking $173,724.

Press Exclusive disposed of two other swift foes on the front end in a recent $80,000 optional claimer, and prevailed by daylight while earning a career-high 88 Beyer. The only time she has finished worse than second in her last seventh starts came in the Ontario Fashion, in which she failed to secure her preferred position on the early lead and finished ninth. Bob Tiller trains.

Prado Star won three races in a row during the spring for trainer Tino Attard, and was beaten only three lengths when sixth in the Seaway.