10/01/2002 11:00PM

Young Turk Early Wisdom takes on elders

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - An improving 3-year-old in the fall can be very dangerous facing older rivals, as English invader Ballingarry proved at Woodbine in last Sunday's Canadian International.

A locally based runner will put the theory to the test here Saturday when Early Wisdom, who is coming off an impressive win in the 1 1/8-mile Colonel R.S. McLauglin here Sept. 14, faces his elders over the same distance in the Durham Cup.

"I feel that [he is] very fresh, and very powerful right now," said Barb Pirie, who took over as Early Wisdom's trainer for his start before the McLaughlin.

Early Wisdom, a gelding owned by father and son Ken and Mike Ham, showed plenty of promise when he won his maiden over 1 1/16 miles here last fall and loomed as a leading candidate for the $250,000 Coronation Futurity.

But Early Wisdom fractured a sesamoid in his left hind four days before the Coronation and did not make it back to the races until July 11, when he finished last in a field of seven.

In his first start for Pirie, a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance here

Aug. 16, Early Wisdom showed signs of turning the corner with a third-place finish.

Yet his presence in the McLaughlin seemed like a leap of faith, at least in the eyes of the betting public, who sent Early Wisdom off at almost 34-1.

There must have been some believers after the fact, however, as Early Wisdom, sporting blinkers for the first time, was a 2 1/4-length winner under jockey Jake Barton.

And while that effort earned Early Wisdom a stratospheric Beyer Speed Figure of 103, 31 points above his previous best, Pirie doesn't think he will bounce in the Durham Cup.

"He seems even stronger now, and understands the game a little more," said Pirie. "That race just did him the world of good.

"He's got a lot of confidence in himself, and we're going full force."

A Fleets Dancer going in Durham

A Fleets Dancer, Canada's reigning horse of the year but winless in five 2002 outings, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 under regular rider Robert Landry on a training track labeled good Wednesday and will be looking to defend his title in the Durham Cup.

"He works whatever he feels like working," said trainer Roger Attfield, who often has noted that A Fleets Dancer is not the easiest horse to train. "He looked fine."

A Fleets Dancer, a 7-year-old horse owned by Cam Allard, turned in one of his best career efforts in the 2001 Durham Cup, defeating former Canadian champion 3-year-old Kiss A Native and future horse of the year Win City very convincingly.

"He's never really come back into his old form," said Attfield. "But in the fall of the year, he might turn around a little bit."

A Fleets Dancer's last start, a second-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Durham Cup here Sept. 15, lends support to Attfield's notion.

"He ran a pretty good race last time," said the trainer. "At that distance, I thought he was closing quite nicely."

Dance Smartly heads Sam-Son troops

Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad have launched their annual fall invasion of Keeneland as 12 horses, including stable pony Tot of Rum, headed out for the Lexington oval early Tuesday morning.

Heading the troops are Dancethruthedawn, who is to run in Sunday's Spinster, and Quiet Resolve and Strut the Stage, both candidates for Sunday's Keeneland Shadwell Turf Mile.

The others are Full of Wonder, Crucible, Ford Every Stream, Soaring Free, Mountain Beacon, Whiletheiron'shot, Lucky Old Sun, and Wild Wish.

Sam-Son still will be active on the local front, with 29 horses here under the management of assistant trainer Lynn Kehlbrier.

England back to public stable

The wheel has come full circle for Phil England, who is back running a public stable for the first time in more than a decade.

England, 58, had trained for Eugene and Laura Melnyk since the spring of 2001 but that association gradually wound down and now is officially history.

Before that, England spent 10 years as the private trainer for the Knob Hill Stable of Steve Stavro. His tenure there featured Canadian Horse of the Year titles with Benburb (1992) and Thornfield (1999), plus a personal Sovereign Award as outstanding trainer in 1992. "I'm planning to have an outfit for next year here," said England, who already has a good head start on that goal with seven horses for various clients.

England is training three horses for Bill Sorokolit Sr., including Ballen Isle, a homebred 2-year-old colt who is a full-brother to the stakes-placed turf specialist Union Place, currently based at Belmont with trainer Randy Schulhofer.

Media Sovereign Awards

The Jockey Club of Canada has announced that submissions for this year's Sovereign Awards in four media categories must be received by 5 p.m (Eastern) Oct. 31.

Submissions must be of Canadian racing or breeding content and have been published or aired between Nov. 1, 2001 and Oct. 31, 2002.

The categories are feature story, newspaper article, photograph, and film/video/broadcast.

The finalists will be announced Nov. 15 and the winners will be honored at the 28th annual Sovereign Awards gala on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

The Jockey Club of Canada can be reached by phone at (416) 675-7756; fax (416) 675-6378; or email tjcc@ftn.net.

* Belain Farm, located in nearby Belfountain, will host a silent auction in support of the Horse Foundation beginning at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday. The mission of The Horse Foundation is to provide shelter, rehabilitation, adoption, and retirement facilities for injured, unwanted or abused horses. For details on Saturday's fund-raiser, call (416) 698-1257.

* Jim Bannon, Jim Mazur, and Peter Mallet will host a handicapping seminar here Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. on the second floor of the grandstand. The session will focus on "Crushing the Cup", the annual guide to betting the Breeders' Cup.