Going nose to nose

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Four respected horsemen delivered their messages in different ways but they said almost the same thing - and all were accurate.

The parade of quotes started when Keith Clark, following an early stakes victory, predicted Barona Ferrari would be the class of this year's three-year-old crop.

"We'll all have a hard time beating that one again," he said.

Barona Ferrari's trainer and driver, Rod Hennessey, then mentioned cautiously that the season is long and insisted other top youngsters would provide severe tests before long.

Gerry Hudon, with Kiawah, Mr. Brightside and Palmer in his charge, talked of the fast times being recorded and maintained a lot of horses would continue to improve.

Finally, after veteran Don Monkman piloted Balanchine home first in the Silver Bucket two weekends ago, he pointed out several top colts and geldings have a chance to emerge as the season's best.

Now, at last, the final exam is within sight. The 16 top prospects line up tomorrow in elimination heats for the right to enter the $175,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby - highlight of the standardbred season at Northlands Park -on June 9.

Barona Ferrari, winner of eight races in 10 lifetime starts, got a break by drawing the inside post for his heat. Balanchine, considered by many to be his top rival, gets the sixth position.

In their Silver Buckets showdown, they were side by side at the gate and Balanchine got the early break.

Others to factor in the race are Kiawah and Mr. Brightside as the Hudon-trained entry, along with Hillsdale, Rugrat, Great Offer and Red Star Wild West.

The other heat, starting from the inside, lists Red Star Outwest, Super Sunrise, Trust The Artis, Please Come Back, Tessters Odd Sock, Lil Sharkshooter, Matt Trapper and Palmer.

Because of the Northlands Show schedule, there was no harness racing Wednesday. Horsemen were required to complete their daily on-track workouts by 10 a.m.

Weekend cards normally run in the afternoon but first post on both Saturday and Sunday is 7 p.m.


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