08/26/2006 12:00AM

Woodbine: Le Cinquieme Essai wins Play the King


Le Cinquieme Essai held off a closing Becrux in the deep stretch to capture the Grade 2, $202,400 , a seven-furlong turf sprint and important prep for the Sept. 17 Woodbine Mile.

Le Cinquieme Essai tracked the leaders on the turn under jockey Steven Bahen, and hit the front at the eighth pole before opening up a daylight advantage. Becrux came from near the rear of the 11-horse field to finish a half-length back, a length ahead of Millfleet, who won a three-way show photo with Dalavin and My Lucky Strike.

"There was a couple of speed horses in the field, and we knew we'd be sitting three or four lengths off [the pace]," Bahen said. "When I called on him, he came running. It worked out perfectly."

Le Cinquieme Essai, who had finished second in each of his three previous starts for trainer Paul Nielsen, returned $6.70 as the favorite. He earned $120,000 for his owner/breeder, William Scott.

Over a course labeled good, the final time was 1:22.79.

* Velvet Snow ($9.20) nailed Count to Three on the wire to take the $75,400 Belle Geste Stakes, one of two supporting features on Saturday's card.

Velvet Snow rallied from last in the six-horse field to win by a nose, completing seven furlongs on the grass in 1:23.47 under Corey Fraser. See the Wind, part of a heavily favored entry with Count to Three, wound up third.

Trained by Bob Tiller, Velvet Snow banked $45,000 for owner Frank DiGiulio Jr.

* Barilko ($3.50) won for the third time in as many starts in the $100,400 Silver Deputy, a 7 1/2-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds.

Barilko led throughout under Constant Montpellier, and won by 5 3/4 lengths over Bilbo, in a time of 1:33.31. He picked up $60,000 for owner/trainer Dave Dwyer.