All eyes will be on Canadette in the Northlands Filly Pace tomorrow.
The classy three-year-old got everyone's attention last week, coasting a 5 1/2-length victory in a four-horse test designed to give the import from Woodbine a sense of the five-furlong layout at Northlands Park.
JUMPED INTO THE LEAD
Driver Randy Fritz jumped her into the lead immediately and barely moved in his sulky from start to finish. Her winning time was a shocking 1:54 2/5, equalling the Filly Pace record set in 2004 by Just Sassy.
Canadette reached that impressive level although she was never pressed. Winning times have been consistently sharp this season.
Fritz and the filly face two differences: a seven-horse field and a different driver for Stabilo, who finished second last week and is expected to be a little better.
The replacement is Michael Saftic, one of the best drivers in the world, who was imported after owner-trainer Kelly Hoerdt drove Stabilo last week. Saftic-steered standardbreds have won almost $1.5 million this year after coming within a few dollars of $5 million last year.
Most impressive of all, he has driven 3,976 winners on the world's most difficult circuits and the animals have earned more than $68 million in total.
The Fritz record is terrific in its own right. He owns more than 1,000 victories and has driven horses to lifetime earnings of of nearly $10 million.
With $175,000 on the line today, chances are that both will boost their bottom lines.
Northlands regular John Chappell, who drove Just Sassy in that record performance, has competed against Saftic and Fritz many times and appreciates both. "You get a record like that by earning it," he said.
Like everyone else, Chappell would not be surprised to see the Filly Pace record wiped out tomorrow although he said he is not convinced the five-furlong Northlands surface is faster than in previous years.
"It's probably better equipment and for sure it's better horses," said Chappell, who does not have a ride in the feature. "Canadette will get away early. It's a question of somebody putting pressure on her out of the gate."
Considered most likely to do that are Rod Hennessy with Roxy Roller and Keith Clark with Real Beauty. Others in the field are a Day Away driven by Bill Tainsh Jr., She's So Foxy with Mark Bradley in the bike and Minettas Girl with Fred Gillis in charge.