07/13/2001 11:00PM

Woodbine: Strut the Stage does

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Heavily Favored Strut the Stage took the $132,375 Grade 3 Toronto Cup Handicap Saturday at Woodbine with ease under Todd Kabel.

Legal Heir and Stage Classic dueled through fractions of 23.38 seconds and 46.03 in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. Strut the Stage stalked Legal Heir and Stage Classic while three wide and joined the leaders midway on the turn.

Strut the Stage got the three-quarter split in 1:10.19, before coasting home on top by 3 1/4 lengths under a hand ride. Stage Classic finished eight lengths clear of Legal Heir in second, while Crown's Prospect trailed the four-horse field. The final time was 1:47.91.

"He was much the best today," said Kabel. "I was just hanging on. He's a special horse."

Strut the Stage banked $83,396 of the $132,375 purse for Sam-Son Farm. He returned $2.20, winning his fourth race in five career starts for trainer Mark Frostad.