08/11/2006 12:00AM

Toneless a deserving favorite in Cup race


FORT ERIE, Ontario - In his last start on July 17, Toneless earned one of the highest Beyer Speed Figures of this Fort Erie meet, a 97, when he triumphed by 3 3/4 lengths in a $10,000 starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles.

The effort will likely make Toneless the favorite for Sunday's $30,000 Peace Bridge, a 1 1/16-mile Cup race which drew a field of six.

Cup races are restricted to runners who have had three previous starts at the meet. And since the Peace Bridge is being contested as a starter allowance, each entrant must have had a previous start at or below the $5,000 claiming level during 2005-06.

The win by Toneless, 6, was his first in four starts this year, and the Beyer Figure was a career high. His previous high of 83 was attained 13 days earlier at the same level, when Toneless weakened in the late stretch to lose by three-quarters of a length.

In that race, however, Toneless was very fractious at the starting gate and expended much energy. In spite of the shenanigans, Toneless finished five lengths ahead of $1 million-earner Parose, who ended up third. Clearly, Toneless is at the very top of his game.

Trained by Armand Concessi, Toneless started his year May 15 with a third-place finish, 6 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Fast Approaching. In his latest, Toneless turned the tables on Fast Approaching and defeated him by 6 1/4 lengths.

Fast Approaching, trained by Stacey Cooper, is also in the Peace Bridge. Fast Approaching has posted 86 Beyers in each of his last three starts. His last race was at Woodbine, a fourth-place finish in a $32,000 claimer.

"The horse to beat is Toneless," said Nick Mileni, partner of Fast Approaching's trainer, Stacey Cooper. "We now get a rematch, and I'm looking forward to it.

"Cold War will be in the race, too. It could be one of the best races of the year."

Cold War, in the hands of owner-trainer Vern Fernandes, has won four of his eight starts this year, three at the Fort and one at Woodbine. The consistent 5-year-old has twice hit his career-high Beyer of 86 in his last four starts.

Regina Sealock, who was aboard Cold War for the three wins at the Fort, will again be his partner.

Francine Villeneuve will ride Toneless, and Chad Beckon will be atop Fast Approaching.