09/02/2003 11:00PM

Top Stage Dancer tough off 14-length triumph


SASKATOON, Saskatoon - Based on her 14-length victory at Marquis Downs on Aug. 22, Top Stage Dancer should be a prohibitive favorite in the Graceful Klinchit Handicap in Friday's sixth race, a $4,000 allowance for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

The City Centre Bingo Handicap for 3-year-old fillies was to have had top billing here on Friday, the next-to-last day of the meet, but because of a lack of nominations the race was canceled - putting Top Stage Dancer at center stage.

Although the Klinchit came at a distance of 1 1/16 miles, Top Stage Dancer appears to be far superior to her four foes on Friday.

Named Saskatchewan's top 3-year-old filly in 2002, Top Stage Dancer raced at Assiniboia Downs earlier this summer with her best result being a third-place finish in the Canada Day.

Top Stage Dancer stalked the pace in the Klinchit for about a half-mile before asserting her dominance and winning at will. Leading rider Rennie Latchman rode her out that day and should have things his own way again.

Brite Steel is a 3-year-old who was prepared to run in the canceled stakes but winds up here instead. This race may be more to her liking, given that the stakes was to be run at a flat mile, and she has been well-beaten in all three of her attempts at a mile or farther.

Brite Steel won three straight starts earlier this summer, including the Captain Stanley Harrison Handicap at Friday's distance. Jockey Tim Moccasin, six victories behind Latchman heading into the weekend, remains aboard.

Rounding out the field will be Royal Brittany, Artic Fox, and Wango Tango.

* The trainer title is going to go right down to the final weekend, as Hubert Pilon and Don Bjarnarson are tied with 15 wins apiece. George Gervais is one win back in third.