10/15/2003 12:00AM

Tigger Bay ends year with a bang

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EDMONTON, Alberta - The 2003 stakes schedule ended on Monday, Thanksgiving Day, and Tigger Bay finished his season well by winning the $75,000 Canadian Juvenile.

Tigger Bay, who was shipped from Assiniboia Downs in August after finishing third in the $40,000 Winnipeg Futurity, made an instant impression here when he stole the $40,000 Birdcatcher on Sept. 1.

On Monday, jockey Leanne Painter took Tigger Bay to the lead from the outside in the eight-horse field and they set a blistering pace with a first quarter of 23.20 seconds.

All of the entrants were running 1 1/16 miles for the first time, and some handicappers questioned whether Tigger Bay could maintain the pace. But Tigger Bay proved the pace would not be a problem.

On the final turn, Painter urged Tigger Bay to a two-length lead. Tigger Bay faltered a bit down the lane but was able to hold off the late charge of favorite Royalty Boy to win by a nose and pay $9.60.

The win makes Tigger Bay the early favorite for the 2004 Canadian Derby, assuming owner Ed Pawluk brings Tigger Bay back to Alberta next year.

A winner of three of five races, Tigger Bay also gave Painter her meet-leading seventh stakes win.

Last Saturday, the top local 2-year-old fillies ran in the $40,000 Freedom of the City and Alberta-bred Waikoloa surprised by outlasting favorite Bears Little Angel. Waikoloa won by a head and paid $20.10.

Waikoloa earned $35,200, including a bonus paid from Horse Racing Alberta.