06/16/2004 11:00PM

All signs in Alberta point to Kat Kool


CALGARY, Alberta - Kat Kool, a convincing winner of the Hoofprint on My Heart, heads a strong field of 11 colts and geldings in Saturday's 74th running of the $100,000 Alberta Derby at Stampede Park.

The derby is the premier event of a 47-day meet which ends Sunday.

Kat Kool found the one-mile distance of the Hoofprint to his liking in his first try beyond six furlongs, and rider Quincy Welch had plenty of horse left at the conclusion of the May 30 race, the major local prep for the derby.

The Alberta Derby's 1 1/16-mile distance should favor Kat Kool, a Kentucky-bred son of Tomorrow's Cat who has the bloodlines to run long and hails from the leading barn of trainer Red Smith.

Kat Kool drew post 10 in the crowded field but came from the same post last time out to score by four lengths under a clever ride by Welch.

Smith also will send out Saw Grass Sabre and Curious Gamble. The three entrants will run uncoupled in the wagering, as allowed by a ruling from Horse Racing Alberta, and superfecta wagering will be available.

Saw Grass Sabre, winner of the six-furlong President's Handicap here May 15, faded to third in the Hoofprint after prompting quick early fractions. He drew the rail in the derby with jockey Leanne Painter replacing Stephan Heiler.

Curious Gamble, a distant fourth as the favorite in a one-mile allowance race last time out, breaks from post 3 under Peter Wong.

A new face in the crowd is Lord Samarai, who arrives in town fresh off a second-place effort in the 6 1/2-furlong Klondike at Hastings last Saturday. Regular rider Dave Wilson retains the mount.

Royalty Boy, who closed from last to finish second to Kat Kool last time out is a threat from off the pace, as is Tamingo, who has blossomed at the right time for trainer Dave Nicholson. Real Simard will be back aboard Royalty Boy, who breaks from post 2.

Heiler took off Saw Grass Sabre to ride Tamingo, a live longshot who has drawn off to score impressive wins in his last two starts.

Ol Fifty, Fly Esteem, Too Many Trains, Cool Lad, and Ozzie's J.J. complete the field.

Too Many Trains will be making his local debut after racing at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise. He won his last two starts in Phoenix, over six furlongs and one mile of turf. Mike Iammarino rides.