08/05/2004 12:00AM

Steel Copy right back


SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - Steel Copy and Stage Whisper, racing as separate betting interests for RJ Stable, look like the pair to beat in Saturday's $6,500 City of Bridges Sophomore at Marquis Downs.

The one-mile event, restricted to Saskatchewan-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, attracted a field of seven. Included in the mix is last year's top juvenile colt in the province, Royal Rush.

Steel Copy is making his 10th start of the year, and his sixth at Marquis Downs after trying to beat maidens at Stampede Park this spring.

He didn't win at Stampede, but Steel Copy has won three of his five starts here, including the July 3 Saskatoon Handicap by two lengths.

A confirmed front-runner, Steel Copy won by five lengths just last weekend for a $5,000 claiming price, facing 3- and 4-year olds. Leading rider Serge Rocheleau picks up the mount.

Stage Whisper won two stakes here last season, the Western Heritage and Saskatchewan Futurity, but is winless in three starts this year. After a decent race at Stampede Park, a 6 1/4-length loss for a $20,000 claiming price to start the year, Stage Whisper has been well beaten here in two starts, flattening out down the lane.

Steel Copy's usual rider, Haniff Emamalie, picks up the mount on Stage Whisper.

Astapay was the winner of the seven-furlong allowance prep for this race on July 17 when he rallied from fourth to score a 1 1/4-length victory over Signal to Go.

Also finishing behind Astapay were Stage Whisper in third and Steel Copy in fourth.

Signal to Go finished second to Steel Copy in the Saskatoon before being unable to fend off Astapay in the allowance prep.

Royal Rush won the Marquis meet's richest race last year, the Prairie Lily Sales Stakes, but has failed to hit the board in five starts as a 3-year-old.