05/09/2006 12:00AM

Two with early speed set to battle


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Perhaps the most interesting matchup on the nine-race card Thursday at Woodbine is the opener, a 6 1/2-furlong starter allowance with a $44,500 purse. Stonington and Friendly Theresa both possess good speed, and they figure to be the first and second choices in the race, for fillies and mares who have run for a maximum of $32,000 since the beginning of last year.

Stonington was a bargain $40,000 claim last July from Sam-Son Farm by trainer Sid Attard on behalf of owners Frank and Kathleen Lynett. She has won four races and nearly $160,000 since. All four wins were at seven furlongs, including one on the grass.

Stonington, 7, completed her 2005 campaign by finishing seventh after dueling on the lead in the Grade 3 Bessarabian Handicap. She appeared in a $62,500 optional claimer April 16, winning by 9 1/2 lengths with a wide stalking trip over a track that aided the front-runners and pace-pressers. The 90 Beyer Speed Figure she earned is the third-highest of her career.

Simon Husbands retains the mount on 125-pound highweight Stonington, who finished second in the 2003 Pan Zareta Handicap at the Fair Grounds.

Friendly Theresa has won 13 of 41 starts for earnings of $354,524. She was claimed from a win for $40,000 in September by trainer and part-owner Julia Carey.

Friendly Theresa rode a speed bias to a decisive tally over $62,500 optional claimers in her first try for Carey Oct. 7. After ending up seventh in the Ontario Fashion Handicap, she closed out her season with another victory over $62,500 opposition.

In her 2006 opener, Friendly Theresa led throughout in a five-furlong allowance prep for the Whimsical Stakes. She finished far back in the Grade 3 Whimsical itself, after battling wide for the early lead.

Apprentice Emma Wilson will ride.

The other four competitors appear overmatched.

Conquistadordelite is jumping up from the conditioned claimed ranks for her first start of the year.

Sunadir and Hassayampa finished third and fourth over a very sloppy track in a $40,000 claimer April 23.

Great Auntee bobbled on the turn and was pulled up in that race, after which the card was cancelled because of poor track conditions.