08/06/2003 11:00PM

Sundance Circle looks unbeatable

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AUBURN, Wash. - Sundance Circle will be a lopsided favorite when he takes on five challengers in Saturday's $35,000 Strong Ruler Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong test for 2-year-olds eligible for both the Northwest Stallion Series and the Northwest Race Series.

Sundance Circle would be favored in a race without the restrictions of Saturday's stakes, as he is the ranking juvenile on the grounds after posting two impressive victories in as many starts. In his most recent outing, in the open Emerald Express Stakes July 19, Sundance Circle drew off to score by 5 1/2 lengths over Harvard Avenue in a stakes record 1:09 for six furlongs.

Sundance Circle, a strapping son of Katowice who sold for $52,000 at last year's Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association summer yearling sale, races for Mike Alhadeff's Once Stable and is trained by Howard Belvoir. He will break from the outside post under regular rider Jennifer Whitaker at 120 pounds.

Sundance Circle figures to get his sternest opposition from Market Report, a stretch-running son of Tahoe City from the barn of trainer Bud Klokstad. Though still a maiden after three starts, Market Report twice ran second against special weight company before closing for third in the Emerald Express. He has twice been beaten by Sundance Circle, however, and will need to step forward significantly to threaten the favorite.

An intriguing alternative is Runs All Knight, who was supplemented to the Strong Ruler at a cost of $2,000.