11/13/2003 12:00AM

Third Sacker live vs. favorites in Display


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The focus of Saturday's Display Stakes will be the Sovereign Award showdown between A Bit O'Gold and Smoocher, because either horse would virtually ensure himself of 2-year-old colt or gelding honors with a victory.

But the Display is more than a two-horse race, and another entrant who can't be thrown out is Third Sacker, who is a maiden after six starts but has shown more than a modicum of talent.

Third Sacker has finished second once and third four times while earning $100,936.

"He's a consistent little horse," said his trainer Roger Attfield. "And, he's getting mentally better about life all the time."

Third Sacker made his last two starts in stakes, running third in the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of turf and then second to A Bit O'Gold in the Coronation Futurity at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. The Cup and Saucer and the Coronation are the top Woodbine races for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

In the Coronation on Nov. 1, Third Sacker dropped to the inside for the stretch run and challenged strongly before coming up 1 1/2 lengths short. It was his first race under leading jockey Todd Kabel.

"Todd felt he should have won if he'd gone outside," said Attfield. "It was a solid enough race."

Attfield had not planned to run Third Sacker in the Display, and was leaving his options open even after entering the colt in the race Wednesday.

"I wasn't actually thinking about coming back in two weeks, with the campaign that he's had," said Attfield. "But he's a resilient little guy.

"He's pretty versatile. I think he'll be a nice 3-year-old. I think he's a horse who's going to run well going longer."

Mille Feville could have drawn better

The Attfield stable also will be represented in Sunday's Grade 3, $164,400 Bessarabian Handicap, with Mille Feville among the seven fillies and mares in the seven-furlong race.

Mille Feville, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, finished second in each of her last two starts, both at six furlongs, in a prep for the Ontario Fashion and in the Fashion itself.

"Her last two races have been pretty solid races," said Attfield. "We were having problems with her feet and we got them straightened away."

While 6 1/2 furlongs in the longest distance at which Mille Feville has won, Attfield believes she will be comfortable with the Bessarabian's extra distance.

"I think seven furlongs will be fine, and if it came to being an off track, it would even be better for her," he said.

Attfield said Mille Feville would prefer an outside draw, only to see her land in the 2-hole. "She doesn't like being down on the inside," he said.

Small Promises eyes Calder start

Attfield had also nominated Small Promises and Tuff Chick to the Bessarabian.

But Small Promises has been sent to Florida, where she is expected to race, and Tuff Chick has been retired. Both mares will go on the auction block at Keeneland in January.

Small Promises, a 5-year-old, won the Sovereign Award for her division last year but has been blanked in eight starts this year.

Attfield hopes to send her out on a winning note in the $100,000 Stage Door Betty, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares at Calder Dec. 27.

Tuff Chick, also 5, became a stakes winner this summer, in the Lauries Dancer at Fort Erie.

Winter Whiskey in Sunny's Halo

Winter Whiskey was nominated to the Display but will run instead in Sunday's $106,000 Sunny's Halo, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, which attracted a field of six.

"This is a nice distance to get him started back again, get him back on the program," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains both Winter Whiskey and A Bit O'Gold.

Winter Whiskey, who won the seven-furlong Swynford here Sept. 21, was being pointed for the Coronation, but then finished 10th when trying the grass for the first time in the Cup and Saucer.

On Coronation Day, Winter Whiskey wound up in the barn while A Bit O' Gold wound up in the winner's circle.

"[Winter Whiskey] wasn't doing as well as before going into the Coronation," said Day Phillips. "I gave him a week off and he bounced back."

Day Phillips is hoping Winter Whiskey will proceed from the Sunny's Halo to the $125,000 Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here on closing day, Nov. 30.

Millionaire Wake at Noon, 6, retires

There had been a slight possibility that Wake at Noon would race once more after finishing fourth in last Saturday's Woodbine Slots Cup and before calling it a career.

But it's official now: he's retired. Wake at Noon went home Wednesday, to the farm of his owner and breeder Bruno Schickedanz, where he will stand at stud.

"I already miss him," said Abraham Katryan, who trained Wake at Noon throughout his career. "Today was the first day I came to his stall and he wasn't there. He's been there for many years.

"He's been the backbone of this barn. He gave me a good start and taught me a few good lessons - how to train a good Thoroughbred."

Wake at Noon, a 6-year-old, won 13 stakes, all here at Woodbine, and was honored with Sovereign Awards as horse of the year, champion older male, and champion sprinter in 2002. His record is 19 wins, 5 seconds, and 5 thirds from 45 starts, with earnings of $1,544,492.

As a winner of three stakes this year, including the first two two-turn wins of his career, Wake at Noon again is a candidate for older-male Sovereign honors.