07/26/2005 12:00AM

Two top-shelf turf runners in allowance


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Strut the Stage and Royal Regalia will both make their first start since competing on the 2004 Breeders' Cup card in Thursday's Woodbine feature. The $87,900 classified allowance has attracted a mixed bag of six runners, who will negotiate 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Strut the Stage, an accomplished 7-year-old trained by Mark Frostad, had a successful four-race campaign in each of the past two years. He won back-to-back Grade 2 stakes during the summer of 2003, including the Chinese Cultural Centre.

Last year, Strut the Stage took the Grade 2 Niagara BC Handicap in his second start off a long layoff. He subsequently bombed as the heavy favorite in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Handicap, and then finished a well-beaten seventh in the Grade 1 BC Turf at Lone Star.

Strut the Stage is coupled in the Sam-Son Farm entry with Surging River, who was scratched from last Sunday's Ontario Jockey Club Stakes.

Surging River finished fourth and then third in his appearances at the meeting, both allowance sprints, and will stretch out to a more suitable distance on Thursday. Todd Kabel was named on both halves of the entry.

Royal Regalia, trained by Justin Nixon for Stronach Stable, shattered the one-mile course record here in July of last year, when he captured a $100,000 optional claimer in a time of 1:31.84. He went on to finish third behind Nothing to Lose and Silver Tree in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, and was also third here in the Grade 1 Atto Mile.

Royal Regalia failed to draw into the field for last year's BC Mile, but prevailed as the favorite in a supporting feature on the card, the Texas Turf Stakes, earning his fourth straight 100-plus Beyer Figure.

Nixon, who over the past 19 months has been winning at a remarkable 47 percent clip with runners returning from layoffs greater than 180 days, has enlisted Jono Jones for the mount on Royal Regalia.

Also entered are Dalavin, Mona Rose, and Orsay.

Dalavin struggled in his first two outings this year, which were both taken off the grass. He toppled $100,000 opposition going seven furlongs on the grass here July 2, winning by three lengths with a career high 99 Beyer.

Mona Rose, the lone filly or mare in the lineup, was a troubled third when she came off the sidelines in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes. Twelve days ago, she was a fading fifth when favored in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly Handicap.