06/15/2005 11:00PM

Are they ready for 'Prime Time'?


CALGARY, Alberta - Saturday's 75th running of the Alberta Derby carries a $125,000 purse, the richest in Calgary Thoroughbred racing history. A solid field of seven will contest the 1 1/16-mile highlight of the Stampede Park meet.

Prime Time T. V. drew the outside post and arrives from Assiniboia Downs off two impressive sprint victories. A Kentucky-bred colt, he won both races by open lengths and earned Beyer Speed Figures of 96 and 101.

Winnipeg-based trainer Bert Blake has enlisted local rider Rickey Walcott to ride Prime Time T. V., citing his experience on five-furlong ovals.

Prime Time T. V. is unproven past one-turn sprints, but the manner in which he drew off in the Golden Boy Stakes last time out suggests he will carry his speed the three turns of this race.

Dakota Duke heads the local contingent and has the benefit of a one-mile prep victory in the May 28 Hoofprint on My Heart.

A Florida-bred colt, Dakota Duke passed that first route test with flying colors. He toyed with four rivals and was a five-length winner while being eased up at the wire by jockey Quincy Welch.

Welch will undoubtedly keep an eye on Prime Time T. V. to ensure that that rival is not allowed to steal away by himself, a luxury that he enjoyed in both of his tallies in Manitoba.

Tommy's Topper, claimed for $62,500 on May 13 at Hollywood Park, has displayed speed in his last five outings in Southern California and will be on or near the lead under Gerry Olguin, who flies in from Woodbine to ride the colt for Vancouver-based trainer Harold Barroby.

Tommy's Topper has worked twice recently at Hastings and appears at home on any type of surface.

Forever Rascal, second to Dakota Duke in the Hoofprint on My Heart, was making just his second start of the season and is eligible to improve. A gelding trained by Kelly Robinson, he has worked strongly since and has tactical speed, which should allow jockey Real Simard to gain a stalking position.

Blackjack Willy has the ability to be a contender if he runs a straight course. His effort as the favorite in the Hoofprint on My Heart was abysmal, as jockey Perry Winters was unable to control the gelding on the turns.

Blackjack Willy's trainer, Rick Hedge, rolled the dice six days later by adding a tongue-tie and changing bits, and Blackjack Willy responded with a professional effort to win a one-mile allowance by nine lengths.

Major Ascot and Knight's Covenant round out the field.