07/27/2004 11:00PM

'Strike' lone route winner


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The biggest racing weekend of the year at Assiniboia Downs kicks off Friday, when the feature is the $20,000 North Dakota Stallion Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to 3-year-olds eligible through the North Dakota Thoroughbred Association.

The weekend also includes the $40,000 Frank Arnason, a six-furlong race for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds on Saturday; and the $40,000 Winnipeg Sun, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on Sunday.

On Monday, the $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will be featured on a card that includes the Winnipeg Futurity, Jack Hardy, and Wheat City.

In the North Dakota Stallion, Strike an Image appears the one to beat. He won the restricted one-mile North Dakota Derby two starts ago and then finished second in an optional claimer July 20.

One of only three multiple winners in the field, Strike an Image is the only one with a victory over a route of ground. Regular rider Jason Leacock will be aboard Strike an Image, who breaks from post 3.

Dakota Dixie finished second in the North Dakota Derby, three lengths behind Strike an Image. Trained by Chad Torevell, Dakota Dixie won her maiden against special weight company in her next start July 16. She starts from post 2 with Travis Hightower in the irons.

Made in America beat conditioned claimers in her last start here July 20. Trained by Ardell Sayler, Made in America won three races in a row at smaller tracks in South Dakota early this year and will try a route for the first time. Made in America breaks from post 5 with Beth Butler up.

Sayler will also send out Sir Augustus, who finished behind Made in America in two starts in South Dakota early this year. Sir Augustus, who has been off form in three local starts so far this year, breaks from post 7 under Vince Guerra.

Princess Brooke was fourth in the North Dakota Derby and begins from post 6 with Gary Melanson in the tack.

Silvertipkiller won his maiden against claimers two starts ago. He breaks from the rail with Tony Matteucci.

The field rounds out with E Freddys Money, who breaks from post 4 under Keveh Nicholls.