07/23/2001 11:00PM

Annual fair holds a hex for favorites


EDMONTON, Alberta - Klondike Days means different things to different people, but one thing is consistent: K-Days has a history of knocking off favorites, and it happened again last weekend as the annual fair got under way.

It began on Friday in the $30,000 Northlands Oaks when prohibitive favorite Brighton Belle led the way through the first half-mile before fading and finishing 12 lengths behind the winner, Little Lolita. A 3-year-old filly trained by Rod Heggie, Brighton Belle was bet down to 8-5 and was expected to handle this field easily after a spectacular performance in the $30,000 Chariot Chaser at 6 1/2 furlongs on June 30.

Trainer Rod Heggie will have to re-evaluate the rest of the summer, as he had been pointing Brighton Belle to the $50,000 Sonoma on Aug. 11 and the $40,000 Alberta Oaks on Sept. 22, with both stakes going at one mile. With no sprint races left on the calendar at Northlands this year, Heggie's options appear to be limited.

The following day, the Klondike Curse grabbed hold of Northern Neechitoo in the inaugural $30,000 John Patrick Memorial Handicap for older fillies and mares.

A 4-year-old filly, Northern Neechitoo came into the race off three straight victories, including a dominating performance in her last trip and went off at 3-5, but her day was done before the race ever started.

Northern Neechitoo broke in the air and hit the gate, leaving her well of the early pace and jockey Stephan Heiler was unable to pilot her back into contention. The race was won by longshot Crimson Hue, who paid $16.30 to win.