Another big weekend ahead on track at Northlands as we pack four stakes races into Saturday action. Greg Tracy swept the first stakes day of the year, but now with bigger fields and mile distances, we could see some tables turned.
The action gets underway in the 4th race, start of the $10k guaranteed Pick 4, with the Spangled Jimmy. KILLIN ME SMALLS missed the first added money event of the year, but is back quickly for this one, having raced on June 11th. He finished a good 2nd that day but was trapped between horses at the head of the lane, and never really got a chance to stretch his legs. 'SMALLS is drawn inside of BLUE DANCER which could help his cause. Speaking of BLUE DANCER, he has been installed as the morning line favorite in the field of five following his dominant win in the Journal. Last season when routing he was able to open up multiple lengths on the field and cruise to victory - that may prove to be quite a bit tougher today with the presence of the 2015 Alberta Horse of the Year Killin Me Smalls. If those two hook up, have a look for FOR CASH making his move from off the pace. With more than $400k in his bankroll, he is quite for formidable threat.
The older fillies and mares are up next in the 6th in the John Patrick. EUSTACIA looks to be the one to beat, but drew the outside post in the field of eight. She was all out in the stretch to win the Wild Rose by a head, as HERO'S AMOR closed the gap late. EUSTACIA is at her best when rolling along on an uncontested lead, but could have a tough time finding that with BLAMEITONTHEKNIGHT in the field. HERO'S AMOR was a two time route stakes winner last season, and projects to get a good trip near the front. TRUVI is an interesting horse who could pop up at a price. She was stakes placed last season when she stretched out, and has good tactical speed which should play well in this field. QUALITY LANE makes her second start of the year, and should only better the more ground she is given.
Race 7 is the Red Smith and will have a field of nine. C U AT EAU CLAIRE has done nothing wrong so far in her career, winning four of six – all of them coming in stakes events. Her last beat came going a mile and a sixteenth last season at Hastings in the Fantasy. She didn’t get much help at the post draw, having just one outside of her. The big question will be can BOOTLEGGERS WIFE bounce back from a dull performance. She was a brilliant two year old, and ran just an even race in her three year old debut. There is still plenty of potential there, and now having a race under her belt may help her out. LEENA defeated her last season at this distance, and could jump up and pull off the upset again for Pinky McDonald. SMART FIX and PORT PROTECTION were impressive maiden winners, and now will step up and stretch out. Both of their breeding suggests that they will thrive at the distance.
The Ky Alta, the next step towards the Canadian Derby goes as the 8th and final race. Let’s start with the last race winner, REASON FOR BEING. He got to the front and never looked back for the third time in his career, and for the first time in a stakes race. How far can he carry the speed, under possible pressure, will be the big question. KRISTOFFERSON, POLKA DOT RIVER and HOLD THE GIANT all look like they will want to be part of the early pace along with REASON FOR BEING. If all of those horses do decide to go, that could spell trouble for the favorites route debut. The possible beneficiary is his stablemate AUTUMN SONG. He looked extremely good picking up the second win of his career, and is bred to run all day. AUTUMN SONG has great tactical speed, and should get first run on the closers which include LAW MASTER. ‘MASTER turned in a good effort in his local debut, finishing well through the lane to be 2nd. GO WILD is another who may get better with more ground, and gets lasix for the first time today – but unfortunately has to break from the outside post. First post for the Saturday stakes laden card is 1pm MST.
Don’t forget that the Jackpot Hi 5 keeps growing, and is currently sitting at $59,906.44 as of Friday. If it survives until Saturday, the Ky Alta will make for an interesting wager, where we could see it go down.