06/05/2007 11:00PM

True Metropolitan in stakes prep

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - True Metropolitan, last year's champion older male and the runner-up in the Sovereign Award voting for Canadian Horse of the Year, will prep for the July 1 Dominion Day Stakes in Friday's Woodbine feature.

The 1 1/8-mile classified allowance has lured five others, including the versatile Last Answer and last year's champion 3-year-old, Shillelagh Slew.

True Metropolitan won 7 of 12 starts last year at four different tracks, which were in three different provinces - British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. After an extensive campaign in Western Canada, he trounced the locals in the Grade 3 Woodbine Slots Cup Stakes in November.

True Metropolitan set the pace before fading to third in the Valedictory Stakes here Dec. 10. The 87 Beyer Speed Figure he received then was his only sub-90 Beyer since last August.

Trainer Terry Jordan felt the 1 3/4-mile distance of the Valedictory was not too far for True Metropolitan.

"He was a little bit too eager," Jordan explained. "We didn't do enough with him leading up to the race."

True Metropolitan won his season opener convincingly in the 6 1/2-furlong George Royal Stakes at Hastings. He finished third here most recently in the Grade 3 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile stakes on the Polytrack.

"I feel that he's better than he was last year," Jordan said.

Last Answer, trained by Mike Keogh, was narrowly beaten in three Grade 2 stakes on the grass here last year. Perhaps his best performance was a head loss to Better Talk Now and Jambalaya in the Sept. 24 Sky Classic.

Last Answer ran twice on the Polytrack last fall. He captured the allowance prep for the Valedictory, but was a well-beaten fifth in the Valedictory itself. He finished a distant 11th in his season opener on the grass in the Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.

Shillelagh Slew wound up fourth as the favorite when he came off the sidelines April 28 in the seven-furlong Vigil Stakes. A slow pace and a speed-favoring track, with ample kickback, probably hurt his chances in that Grade 3 contest.

A tepid pace also hindered Shillelagh Slew in the May 21 Eclipse, when he trailed the seven-horse field early before mounting a mild inside rally for fourth.

Shillelagh Slew was an authoritative winner of the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby last October while earning a 92 Beyer. The 93 Beyer he got in the Eclipse is a career high.

"He's a bigger, stronger horse than he was last year," trainer Mike DePaulo said.