08/01/2003 11:00PM

Woodbine: Chopinina wins a stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Chopinina, last year's Sovereign Award-winning champion turf female, won her first stakes at Woodbine in the Grade 3, $209,050 Royal North Handicap.

Chopinina ($5.10) stalked a three-way pace speed duel while four wide in the six-furlong grass race for fillies and mares. Leading Role, Mille Feville, and Mysterious Affair battled through splits of 23 and 47.21 seconds over the soft going, before Chopinina assumed command at the quarter pole.

Chopinina held a closing Alpha Heat at bay in the stretch to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:12.19. Alpha Heat ended up seven lengths clear of third-place finisher Leading Role in the seven-horse field.

"She ran a strong race," said Todd Kabel, who rode Chopinina. "She was loafing on me in the stretch, so I had to keep pretty busy on her. Our biggest concern was the soft turf, but she handled it well."

oRoyal Dalliance ($18) rallied from just off the pace under Na Somsanith to capture the $108,000 Belle Mahone for fillies and mares.