04/11/2008 12:00AM

Arizona invader fit enough to step up

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CALGARY, Alberta - Contention runs deep in Sunday's $30,000 claiming feature at Stampede Park, with a slight edge accorded to Mack's Monarch, strictly from a fitness standpoint.

The six-furlong sprint drew an evenly matched field of eight older horses vying for a $17,600 purse.

Mack's Monarch, a 5-year-old Minnesota-bred gelding, arrives in town fresh off a pair of strong second-place efforts at Turf Paradise.

Winter-raced runners from trainer Robertino Diodoro's barn have done very well thus far at the meet and this may be the best chance for Mack's Monarch to beat this kind of company.

Claimed out of his last start in Arizona for $20,000, Mack's Monarch has displayed tactical speed over one-mile tracks in his well-traveled career, and if he handles this five-furlong oval his fitness edge may carry him home in front under Rickey Walcott.

Mack's Monarch will likely have to fend off Churchbridge, who runs very well fresh and has run some huge races at this meet the past two springs.

A 7-year-old gelding, Churchbridge opened his season with a powerful allowance score here last April and subsequently finished second by a nose to Plagiarist in the Stampede Park Sprint Championship.

Catalone is another who runs well fresh, although the 8-year-old gelding may want more ground.

Jekar, who got good last summer at Northlands Park, may also be more comfortable going longer.