07/03/2003 12:00AM

Air Driver looks like speed of the speed

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The speedy Air Driver will be favored in the $35,000 R.C. Anderson Stakes here Saturday, but she will likely have a few nipping at her heels early in the restricted one-mile race.

The lone stakes winner in the field of eight 3-year-old Manitoba-bred fillies, Air Driver may have enough speed to open up early and go all the way.

Two starts ago she took on older mares in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance and put away another pace rival before succumbing to the rally of Canada Day Stakes winner Remiewaterbluz. In her last race, the six-furlong Chantilly Stakes here June 8, Air Driver banged her head on the gate before the break and didn't fire.

Owned by K-5 Stable and trained by Ramona Dorsch, Air Driver should be primed for a top effort, and it's just a question of whether she gets any pressure early.

Jerry Pruitt, who won the CTHS Sales Stakes and the Buffalo on Air Driver last year, again has the call.

The other shorter priced horses in Saturday's race all have speed, but Pete's Surprise has shown both speed and the ability to come from off the pace.

Still a maiden, Pete's Surprise broke a step slowly in her most recent race June 13, but still had enough speed to battle for the lead.

Front-end pressure could come from Polka With Me, Lady Della Rayne, Buck a Shot, or New Release.

Polka With Me has shown speed in four of her five lifetime starts, and most recently was forced to steady early in a tough allowance race.

Lady Della Rayne likes to lie close to the pace and could help set the race up for her uncoupled stablemate Private Navy.

Buck a Shot broke a step slowly in her only start, a maiden special June 13, before rushing up to press the pace between horses.

New Release pressed the pace in all three of her starts this year, all against maiden specials.

The only true rallier in the field appears to be longshot Where's Red, who has been flying late in six-furlong maiden claiming races.