07/01/2003 11:00PM

Winners watched from afar


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Neither John Ross nor Mark Frostad was on hand Tuesday at Fort Erie to watch his filly compete in the Labatt Bison City, because of commitments here at Woodbine.

But both trainers got to experience the thrill of victory, long-distance, as Brattothecore and Seeking the Ring dead-heated in the $250,000 Fort Erie feature.

Ross, who trains Brattothecore for the Jam-Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds, stayed here to saddle Classic Mike, who finished third in a third-level allowance.

"I was worried about Classic Mike - he had heat stroke here two starts ago," said Ross. "With Brattothecore, once you've got everything done, away she goes."

Deputizing for Ross at Fort Erie was his brother, Brian Ross, who is trainer Roger Attfield's Fort Erie-based assistant.

"I never saw a duel like that," said John Ross, who had watched Brattothecore, ridden by Jake Barton, hook up with Seeking the Ring and jockey Slade Callaghan turning for home.

Frostad had remained at Woodbine to saddle Dance to Destiny in the Dominion Day Handicap, and he watched that colt finish third behind Phantom Light while making his stakes debut.

Assistant trainer Hugh Chatman and groom Tracy Smith accompanied Seeking the Ring to Fort Erie.

Frostad said that Callaghan had told him that, at the head of the stretch, Seeking the Ring "dropped the bit a little bit and the other filly got her head in front of her. But she came back and dead-heated. It was a great race."

Phantom Light top older male on dirt

Phantom Light, four-length winner of the Dominion Day, was recording his second stakes score of the season after having captured the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse here May 10. Phantom Light had finished fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Dominion Day prep in the interim.

"I'd expected him to run a big race," said Danny Vella, who trains Phantom Light for Stronach Stable, of the Dominion Day. "He'd been training great, going in.

"But, it's always a pleasant surprise when a horse wins that comfortably."

Phantom Light's next major target will be the $125,000 Seagram Cup, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race here Aug. 3.

With his Dominion Day victory, Phantom Light established himself as the clear leader among the older male main-track performers here.

Sir Blitz heads feature

Vella also will send out one of the leading contenders for Friday's feature, with Sir Blitz set to face 10 rivals in a second-level allowance over seven furlongs on turf.

The race goes as the sixth of 10 on the card and offers a purse of $67,600.

Sir Blitz, owned by Vella's wife, Terrie Vella, in partnership with Greg Broadhurst and Selena Barber, has started twice this year, winning a first-level allowance and then finishing a bang-up second under Friday's terms. Both races were at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.

"He got a little 'racey' around the turn last time, and ran up onto heels," said Vella. "I'm hoping he'll relax a little more."

Sir Blitz should have at least one speed horse to stalk in the form of Relaunch Star, who led through the opening quarter-mile before fading to finish eighth of 11 in the Grade 2 Nearctic over six furlongs of turf here last time out.

David Clark retains the mount on Sir Blitz, while Simon Husbands takes over aboard Relaunch Star.

Big guns won't go in Shady Well

Nashinda and Maple Syrple, a pair of Canadian-bred fillies who have each been very impressive in winning two starts, were nominated to Sunday's $150,000 Shady Well but will not run.

That's good news for the connections of the other 15 Shady Well nominees, who would have stood little chance of defeating either Nashinda or Maple Syrple in the 5 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Nashinda, owned by Augustin Stable and trained by Mac Benson, won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special May 17 and the five-furlong My Dear here June 21.

"Three starts in seven weeks would have been too much for her," said Benson. "I probably won't run her again until late summer."

Nashinda's long-term targets are the Grade 2 Mazarine, an open race here Sept. 20, and the Princess Elizabeth, which is restricted to Canadian-breds, here Oct. 12. Both are filly races worth $250,000 and run over 1 1/16 miles.

Maple Syrple, owned by Team Valor Stable and Robert Wilson and trained by Mark Casse, won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race here May 31 and then defeated males in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon here last Saturday.

She is scheduled to make her next appearance on opening day at Saratoga, July 23, in the Grade 2 Schuylerville, a $150,000 filly race at six furlongs.

Casse still plans to be represented in the Shady Well, however, with Solar Sail, who finished third in her debut, and Little Blessing.