09/26/2001 12:00AM

Williams News enters gate on a mission


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Williams News will be a horse on a mission here in Sunday's $1.5 million,. Grade 1 Canadian International.

A 6-year-old gelding owned by On Target Racing Stable and trained by Tom Amoss, Williams News was the victim of an very tough beat when he ran second here in last year's Canadian International.

What made the defeat so painful was not merely the fact that the photo finish camera showed Mutafaweq's nose first on the wire.

It was also that the majority of the race's participants and observers, including Williams News's jockey Patrick Husbands, Mutafaweq's rider Frankie Dettori, and television commentators covering the race both here and in the United States, saw Williams News as the winner as the horses flashed by the wire.

"I watched the race on ESPN at my home, with my wife and kids," said Amoss, from his Churchill Downs base the other morning. "We were all very excited afterwards. It would have been the biggest win of my career.

"I don't want to sound sour grapes over it - he lost, plain and simple. But to feel like you won, and to have that moment taken away from you only moments after you've just received it, was brutal. It was very, very hard to take."

Amoss acknowledges that that experience played a part in his deciding to send Williams News up north for a second crack at the Canadian International. He also had been considering Belmont's Grade 1 Turf Classic, which goes Saturday over the same 1 1/2-mile distance as the Canadian International, but finally opted for the trip here.

"I think the decision to go to Canada was based on a number of reasons," Amoss said. "Probably the first and foremost is that we wanted to go to a race that had what we considered enough pace to set up for Williams News's late run. When you look back at his form, you'll see that the races where there is pace, he has run much better than the ones without.

"Secondly, he's shown an affinity for that Woodbine racetrack.

"And third, but not to be diminished any more than the other two factors, is we want to come back there and we want to prove that we can win this race. Last year was a heartbreak for us, and we're looking forward to coming back and get a little vindication."

Williams News, who ended his 2000 season running 13th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Turf, has won one of five starts this year, the Grade 3 Elkhorn at 1 1/2 miles of turf at Keeneland April 25.

"I think his form is not really a true indication of how he's doing," said Amoss, with particular reference to the gelding's last two starts Those engagements were Arlington's Stars and Stripes, in which Williams News was undone by a slow pace, and Saratoga's Sword Dancer, where the "good" going was not to his liking.

"If you watch his last race, he really had great, great position on the leaders, and just could not get that same turn of foot on the 'soft' going," said Amoss. "He really struggled when he was called upon to kick it in. "Those two racesothe race in Chicago and the race in Saratogaoare as good as any races he's run, in my opinion. So we're coming into this race confident that we have a horse that's doing well, and certainly his works suggest that.

Last year's Canadian International also would have been a career highlight for Patrick Husbands, who will be back aboard Williams News Sunday.

"I still I can't believe I didn't win," said Husbands, "but we've got to put that behind us, and go for the cash now."

Williams News, who arrived Wednesday morning and has taken up temporary residence in the barn of trainer Bob Tiller, will be making his third start at Woodbine Sunday. He also finished third in the 1999 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap, a

1 1/2-mile turf race won by Thornfield, who went on to capture that year's Canadian International.

Husbands rides a second big horse

Husbands, who won the $1 million Atto Mile with Numerous Times here Sept. 9, has a solid chance in Sunday's other feature, too, the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes forfillies and mares.

His mount in that Grade 1, 1 1/4-mile turf feature is Cayman Sunset, whom he rode to a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap over 1 1/8 miles of turf here Sept. 9.

"She ran a really big race," said Husbands. "I'm looking forward to an even better race from her Sunday."

Cayman Sunset had checked in from England four days prior to the Canadian and had raced just two weeks earlier, finishing a badly-beaten 12th in Norway over "soft" going which was not to her liking.

A 4-year-old filly owned by Martyn Burke, Cayman Sunset is trained by Ed Dunlop but has been supervised here by assistant trainer Peter Boothman.