Pacers post up

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

It looks as if tomorrow's Western Canada Pacing Derby has become a battle of post positions.

Adding to the fun, it might also become a battle of nicknames.

The apparent winner of the post position sweepstakes was Keith Clark, who drew the rail with the serviceable Great Offer.

ON THE OUTSIDE

Hampered by the outside post - a common experience for most of the season season - is Lilsharkshooter, who was driven by Jeff Stone to a special performance last week in qualifying for the final of $175,000 classic for three-year-old colts and geldings.

Between them are some well-regarded speedsters, including Barona Ferrari in the fifth spot and Trust The Artist as number six.

Others in the mix: 2. Kiawah; 3. Super Sunrise; 4 Red Star Outwest; 7. Mr. Brightside. Listed as also eligibles are Matt Trapper and Red Star Wild West.

Because the purse is more than $100,000, Mr. Brightside and Kiawah, both prepared by Gerry Hudon, will not race as an entry.

A shock to many is the absence of Balanchine, who won brilliantly for Don Monkman last month in the final of the Silver Buckets.

The easy explanation: after the colt had to be used to get into contention, the tank was empty in the stretch.

Great Offer has been inconsistent at times but shows good speed at the start. Clark, of course, has whatever a driver requires to get the best from his pacer.

GREAT BEARING

How those on his outside settle off the gate will, of course, have a great bearing on the result.

In preparing for this showdown, Rod Hennessy drove the morning-line favourite, Barona Ferrari, to a blazing 27-second third quarter last week while Stone, in the other qualifying heat, showed again that Lilsharkshooter might be fastest of all from the gate.

Last week, Kelly Hoerdt piloted Trust The Artist in a stirring finish against Lilsharkshooter. Depending on how the race shapes up, both could be involved in another thriller this time.

Which is where the nicknames come in.

Lilsharkshooter's connections call him "Sharkey" and Trust The Artist is known to friends as "Pablo Picasso."


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