10/26/2002 11:00PM

Strut the Stage captures Sky Classic


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A rejuvenated Strut the Stage ($5.50) turned back a stern challenge from Maryland invader Cetewayo to capture the Grade 2 at Woodbine Sunday.

Strut the Stage, coupled in the favored Sam-Son Farm entry with Full of Wonder, stalked a slow pace set by Stage Classic in the mile and three-eighth test, which was run over soft turf. Strut the Stage took control early in the stretch, and held off a persistent Cetewayo to prevail by three-quarters of a length under Todd Kabel.

Man From Wicklow lacked room on the far turn before closing to finish a neck behind Cetewayo in third, while Stage Classic faded to fourth in the nine-horse field. The final time was 2:19.33 seconds.

"He ran a great race," said Kabel. "He relaxed for me, and we were running easy. When (Cetewayo) came to him, he dug in and wouldn't let him by. He finished up real strong."

Strut the Stage, winless since taking the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap in May for trainer Mark Frostad, earned $167,700 of the $279,500 purse.

* Favored Krz Ruckus led throughout Sunday's supporting feature, the $105,000 Mt. Sassafras Stakes. Trained by Mike DePaulo, Krz Ruckus ran seven furlongs in 1:22.35 seconds, while scoring by a length and half with Dino Luciani aboard.