07/07/2002 11:00PM

Turf bias suits Leading Role

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Front-runners have more than held their own at the current Woodbine meeting over the E.P. Taylor turf course, which is cut noticeably shorter than most North American grass courses.

Short turf, on top of hard ground, has helped to create ideal circumstances for speed horses, and such conditions could be made-to-order for Leading Role in the third race on Wednesday's card.

Leading Roll exits a commendable second-place finish over soft turf in a similar $80,000 optional claimer on June 16, in which she pressed the pace on the turn before giving way in deep stretch to favored Lush Soldier, who had won the Alywow Stakes in her previous race.

Leading Roll led most of the way to win her penultimate outing against $62,500 opposition on the main track. She worked five-eighths in a bullet 1:00.60 last week, and looks to be in fine fettle for trainer Gail Casselman. Emile Ramsammy has the call.

Facing against Leading Roll in the seven-furlong dash will be Forum Search with Patrick Husbands aboard; Time to Decide, Gerry Olguin; Wager's Joy, apprentice Chantal Sutherland; and Love and Marry, Robert Landry.

Forum Search, sent out by the meet's leading trainer, Mark Casse, also has speed. A 3-year-old, she wired preliminary allowance foes on April 7 after shipping up from Florida, and then was defeated by only 1 3/4 lengths when fifth in the Alywow.

Last time out, in a six-furlong optional claimer on the grass, Forum Search set an uncontested pace and kept on going for an easy score against older rivals.

Cozy Up Doc led the way before fading to finish fifth behind Leading Role by trainer Sandy McPherson, and has ground out a good living over this course in recent years.

Cozy Up Doc has versatile speed, and could assume an early stalking position here after breaking from the inside post.

Love and Marry has been idle since Oct. 18, when she ran second as the favorite at this level, after winning a $62,500 optional claimer. Love and Marry finished first or second in five of six starts last year for Stronach Stable and trainer Malcolm Pierce, a combo which has won more than its share of turf races here this decade.

Time to Decide closed belatedly for third, launching her 2002 campaign two weeks. She was unplaced the only time she ran on the grass last summer.

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