Something special

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Already, it has become obvious that the Aug. 25 Canadian Derby can be something special.

Top three-year-olds Footprint and Sin Toro swapped victories in the Western Canada Handicap and Ky Alta handicaps two weeks apart. After Jake Barton fired Sin Toro through a massive late charge to the finish line, Real Simard rushed Footprint from the gate for an easy revenge triumph.

HOTTEST RIDER

Previously, Alberta's hottest rider, Stephan Heiler, piloted Chief's Magic to a couple of impressive victories, putting the Kentucky-bred son of Chief Seattle first in pre-Derby calculations.

Without much fanfare, Bling, Greenwood Meadow, Prospect Begonia and Forbidden Bear have also shown signs that they will be reckoned with on the Big Day. All have the breeding to be major factors.

So does Amazin Blue, who outfinished Footprint to capture the Alberta Derby at Calgary's Stampede Park in mid-June.

As always, there's another factor: what outsiders from Ontario, the Northwest or elsewhere may be shipped to Northlands Park for the big day?

"It's too early to tell," says Les Butler, the Northlands assistant general manager in charge of racing and gaming.

"A lot of horsemen (here and elsewhere) are sort of playing chess right now."

Butler makes the valid point that the size of the Canadian Derby purse ($300,000 in total; $180,000 to the winner) draws the attention of horsemen all over the continent.

LATHUM

As always, major decisions are based on the the Count Lathum Handicap and the Manitoba Derby in early August. Every year, respected Alberta horses head to Winnipeg, where their performances provide powerful insights to the quality of this province's three-year-old crop and the likely strength of the Canadian Derby, which will follow in only three weeks.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


Videos

Photos