09/14/2002 12:00AM

Woodbine: Early Wisdom hits it big


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Outsider Early Wisdom lit up the tote board with a $69.90 payoff, when he won the Grade 3 Col. R.S. McLaughlin Handicap at Woodbine on Saturday.

Early Wisdom vied up front through moderate fractions with Mark One and New York shipper Center in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds. Center dropped out of contention on the far turn, and Early Wisdom began to edge away from Mark One inside the three-sixteenths pole to score by 2 1/4 lengths, in a time of 1:52.19 seconds.

Prince of Wales Stakes winner Le Cinquieme Essai, the even-money favorite, trailed in the eight-horse field after racing in midpack early.

"It looked like there was some speed in there," said Jake Barton, who rode the winner. "I wasn't expecting to be on the lead, but they were walking [up front], so I let him creep up along the rail."

Early Wisdom, trained by Barb Pirie, earned $98,820 of the $164,700 purse in his stakes debut for owners Mike and Ken Ham.