09/30/2002 11:00PM

Wake at Noon ices his championship at last


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While last Sunday's Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes will have little or no relevance in terms of the Sovereign Awards this year, one certain Canadian champion was on display earlier on the program.

Wake at Noon, a 5-year-old horse who finished third in the outstanding sprinter balloting last fall after being the runner-up the previous season, won his fourth stakes of 2002 in the Highlander Handicap and will be impossible to overlook this time around.

"Personally, I think he should have got that award last year," said Bruno Schickedanz, owner and breeder of Wake at Noon, who is trained by Abraham Katryan. "And I don't know what else is going to show up in the next month, but really, if nobody jumps up then you think about horse of the year."

Wake at Noon would go a long way toward making that dream a reality if he were able to perform creditably in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Arlington Oct. 26.

"If he looks good, we'll probably point him to the Breeders' Cup," said Schickedanz.

Wake at Noon's chances of participating in the Sprint likely would wind up in the hands of the selection committee, as the race generally is oversubscribed and horses earn no Breeders' Cup points for graded stakes in Canada.

Meanwhile, current plans call for Wake at Noon to race next season.

"Racing him is more fun than standing him," said Schickedanz.

Mulrainy leads filly pack

Mulrainy, owned by Wings of Erin Farm and trained by Tom O'Keefe, made her bid for the Canadian 3-year-old filly championship by capturing last Saturday's La Lorgnette.

Ginger Gold, winner of the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, had her campaign cut short by an ankle injury, and both Lady Shari and Silver Nithi, also Sovereign candidates for the division, finished in Mulrainy's wake Saturday.

The 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette was the second stakes score of the year for Mulrainy, who also won the seven-furlong Duchess, a Grade 3 race here Aug. 10.

The $150,000 Jammed Lovely, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred fillies here Nov. 3, should give Mulrainy an opportunity to add to her laurels.

"That would be her final hurrah for this season," said O'Keefe. "She's given us everything she's got. She's had a tough campaign."

While Mulrainy disappointed in her lone try beyond 1 1/16 miles, finishing ninth in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, O'Keefe believes she can expand her distance horizons next year.

"She'll be older and stronger," said O'Keefe. "She's a very relaxed-running type of filly, even though she is on the pace."

Right spot for Stage Classic

Trainer and co-owner Dave Cotey had toyed with the idea of running Stage Classic in the Canadian International. But when push came to shove Cotey opted instead for the $109,000 Chief Bearhart, which followed the International on Sunday's program, and was rewarded when Stage Classic recorded his third career stakes victory.

"That was the place to be," said Cotey. "I didn't want to waste a race and it worked out right; he got the job done."

Stage Classic now will be pointed for the Oct. 27 Sky Classic, a Grade 2, $250,000 race at 1 3/8 miles on turf that he won here last fall.

Lady Shari wants longer

Cotey also trains and co-owns Lady Shari, and was reasonably content with the filly's third-place finish in the La Lorgnette under regular rider Constant Montpellier.

"The best horse won, but we ran a great, great race," said Cotey.

"Constant was riding the hair off her, and she wasn't going anywhere. But all of a sudden she picked it up, and kicked in down the stretch.

"A mile and a sixteenth, on a speed-favoring track, is just a little short for her. She wants to go farther."

Lady Shari should get that opportunity here Nov. 2 in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares. Her two wins this year came over 1 1/8 miles here June 15 and over males at 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 24.

Extra!: Press Exclusive vulnerable

Some trip handicappers will be licking their chops at the chance to bet against Press Exclusive, the likely favorite here in Thursday's featured eighth race.

Press Exclusive helped set a slow pace in her half-length score over $50,000 foes two starts ago. She benefited from a speed bias most recently, when she wired a field of $62,500 claimer, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

The knocks on Press Exclusive in Thursday's $80,000 optional claimer are that she figures to have some heat on the lead from Roman Romance, and that she is winless in four tries at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Ray Sabourin has the mount on Press Exclusive for Bob Tiller, the meet's second-leading trainer.

Also entered in the $72,200 contest are Vixen Star, Emilyna, Fleur de Sel, and Tacky Affair.

Tacky Affair has been absent since Aug. 10, when she finished fourth behind Mulrainy in the Duchess. She has worked regularly since early September for trainer David Bell.

Emilyna closed along a dead rail to end up fifth behind Press Exclusive on Aug. 9, and is coming off an impressive win in a second-level allowance at this distance.

* Parose, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Izvestia Stakes in his last start here July 20, breezed four furlongs in 49.80 seconds on the Woodbine training track Tuesday and is on target for Saturday's Durham Cup Handicap. The Grade 3 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, is worth $150,000.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink