03/26/2003 12:00AM

Stronach pair tough to beat


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stronach Stable had a good meeting last year, especially in the fall, when its horses finished one-two in several races.

The trend could continue Friday at Woodbine, when the Stronach pair of Alpha Heat and Number One Cat compete in the featured eighth race, a 6 1/2-furlong preliminary allowance for fillies and mares.

Alpha Heat, making her first start for trainer Reade Baker, was winless in six starts last year when trained by Roger Attfield. She ran in all three legs of the Canadian series for 3-year-old fillies, finishing third in both the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie, and sixth in the Wonder Where Stakes.

Alpha Heat finished off the board in her final two 2002 races, both allowances, but has worked respectably for her return to action. Last Sunday, she worked six furlongs over the main track in 1:14.

Baker hit the board with all four of his starters on opening weekend, including a sharp maiden win from Elusive Thought.

Number One Cat is trained by Malcolm Pierce, who had plenty of success in Florida over the winter with his Stronach runners.

Number One Cat graduated in her third start, a six-furlong maiden special at Gulfstream in January. She finished fifth there in a March 2 allowance at five furlongs, a distance that might have cramped her speed style.

Robert Landry will ride Number One Cat, and Jim McAleney was named aboard Alpha Heat.

Also entered in Friday's headliner were Stuka's Beauty, Miss Joker, Sweep Princess, Borntobeloved, and Cane Vale.

Baker will also send out the uncoupled pair of Regal 'n Bold and Nystar in Friday's fourth race, a five-furlong allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Regal 'n Bold turned heads with an impressive second-out maiden victory Sept. 18, earning a 90 Beyer Figure for running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.80. She probably bounced in her last outing, the Victorian Queen Stakes on Oct. 2, finishing a distant fourth as the favorite.

Nystar has been absent since her two-race stint here last summer, when she ran fourth in the Nandi Stakes after winning a maiden race in a romp.

Completing the fourth-race lineup are Kirianna, Dressed for Action, Melting Point, and Clover Girl.

Dressed for Action, who spent the winter at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida with trainer Tony Mattine, should take some catching as the likely favorite.

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