08/22/2001 11:00PM

Wake at Noon making turf debut in stakes

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ETOBICOKE Ontario - Wake at Noon, Woodbine's top sprinter on dirt, is set test his prowess on turf in Saturday's $146,000 Play the King Handicap, a prep for the Grade 1 Atto Mile.

Wake at Noon is coupled in the Bruno Schickedanz-owned entry with Tempered Appeal, but trainer Abraham Katryan hinted Wednesday that he will run only one of them in the seven-furlong dash.

Wake at Noon was a close second after a wide journey in the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont on June 9. Katryan felt Wake at Noon didn't like the track when he finished second to Say Florida Sandy for the second time in a row in the Grade 3 Philadelphia Park Breeders' Cup Handicap July 28.

"That track is hard to get a hold of because it's powdery," Katryan said. "He likes Belmont better - it's similar to Woodbine."

Katryan believes Wake at Noon will handle the grass, a surface he has yet to negotiate in competition. "He's worked super on the turf," he pointed out.

Bold Venture Handicap winner Tempered Appeal is unplaced in two turf starts, but was beaten just 2 1/2 lengths when he was fourth behind Dixieland Diamond and Allende in a grass allowance at 2.

Completing the field for Grade 3 dash are Dawson's Legacy, Macward, Olympian, Silver Spear, Solitary Dancer, Karra Kul, Mr. Epperson, Alea Iacta Est, Heliotrope, Inkatha, and also-eligible Hunter Todd.

Olympian and Solitary Dancer won the two divisions of the 2000 Play the King.

Olympian began this year's meet with a bang, shattering the five-furlong track record on the main track. His form has been spotty since that sensational effort, and he has been rested since he finished seventh in the June 24 Nearctic Handicap.

"I sent him to the farm in July when it was really hot," said trainer John Cardella said. "I think he likes to run real fresh."

Solitary Dancer has tailed off in his last few outings, after peaking in May. Trainer David Bell expects an improved effort from him on Saturday.

"He had a couple of minor problems," Bell revealed. "I think I've got him right now. The turf should be a little more to his liking. I don't think he likes it real hard, because it jars him a little."

Bell also entered the 2000 champion turf female, Heliotrope, but said he might scratch her in favor of the Sept. 9 Atto Mile.

Mr. Epperson won the six-furlong Nearctic, beating Alea Iacta Est, who edged Heliotrope for third. Solitary Dancer was only beaten only two lengths when he finished fifth in the same race.