05/13/2004 11:00PM

Alta Aire puts perfect mark on line


CALGARY, Alberta - Alta Aire, undefeated in two starts last year, including an impressive tally in the Bird of Pay, makes her first start of the year in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies in the $40,000 Mount Royal here Sunday afternoon.

An Alberta-bred daughter of Slew City Slew, Alta Aire comes into the six-furlong handicap off a string of solid works for trainer Joan Petrowski, who has enlisted the services of rider Rickey Walcott.

Alta Aire was virtually untested in both her victories at 2, drawing off in style both times. In the Bird of Pay she overcame the outside post with a visually impressive move that carried her to a 4 1/2-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Northlands stakes.

Ericka's Lass arrived from Winnipeg after she and her trainer, Emile Corbel, braved a prairie storm earlier in the week. A Florid-bred daughter of Limit Out, Ericka's Lass captured the Debutante at Assiniboia Downs last July, overcoming post 12.

Her adventurous trip through the prairies - the Trans Canada Highway was closed for a time - may prove to be worth the trouble, and she drew the rail for her initial outing of the year.

Mike Iammarino, aboard for both her wins at 2, has the mount on Ericka's Lass, and Corbel has a pair of bullet works in the holster.

Classa Red Wine, champion of her division in Alberta last year, ran against male foes in her opener and faded badly after being three wide through the first turn. The only double stakes winner in the field, Classa Red Wine hails from the hot shed row of Dale Saunders.