06/29/2006 11:00PM

Switch to main track would give Alleged Ruler edge in Wells

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Eric Coatrieux wasn't unhappy that rain was in the forecast for the Fort Erie area on Saturday evening.

Coatrieux will saddle the 5-year-old Alleged Ruler, the probable favorite, for Chiefswood Stable in Sunday's Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial Stakes, a supporting feature to the $250,000 Bison City.

The $75,000 Wells Memorial is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf.

There has been a fair amount of rain in the area the past week, and Herb McGirr Sr., the director of operations at the Fort, said it would be "nip and tuck" whether the Wells Memorial would remain on the grass.

Alleged Ruler, a Woodbine regular, was a convincing 4 1/4-length winner on the main track in his first visit here, on June 11. Behind him were two of Sunday's opponents, Open Lock and Smiling Jordan.

In his 21-race career, Alleged Ruler, a son of A.P. Indy, is 0 for 2 on the turf, while he has a first and a second in his two attempts over an off track.

Coatrieux, shopping for a first stakes score for five-time winner Alleged Ruler, opted to race here rather than tackle Funny Cide in Saturday's Dominion Day on Woodbine's main track.

"The Fort Erie race will be easier on him, even though it's on turf," said Coatrieux. "We're hoping he'll improve a little and win a race on the grass."

Chiefswood Stable recently retired the 2004 Queen's Plate winner, Niigon, and now Alleged Ruler has emerged from his shadow.

"Alleged Ruler might not be quite as good as Niigon," said Coatrieux, "but he's the type of horse that every time he runs, he puts everything on the line. He loves to run and has lots of heart."

Last year's Wells Memorial winner, Le Cinquieme Essai, isn't in Sunday's seven-horse field, but the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers are. Tamara beat Lenny the Lender by a neck for second. Two lengths farther back was Open Lock.

Tamara, a stakes-placed 6-year-old mare who is to retire after this season, is also entered in the High Button Shoes, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares on Woodbine's main track Sunday.

"It depends on the weather where I'm going to run," said Tamara's trainer and co-owner, Nick Nosowenko, who believes her best shot is on the grass. "I'm going to wait to the last minute to decide. I'm going to put her in the Keeneland sales in the fall. She's been working great, and she loves the tight turns on the turf course."

Lenny the Lender, 10, hasn't won a race since 2002, but has averaged more than $90,000 in yearly earnings since then while placing in a several graded turf stakes. He has had one start this year, beating just one runner in a turf allowance at Woodbine on May 28.

"The turf was very hard that day," said his owner and trainer, Dick Jukosky. "I'm just hoping that was the reason he didn't fire the way I thought he would."