08/03/2013 11:58AM

Assiniboia: R.J. Speers best of three undercard stakes

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While the Manitoba Derby will be the main course at Assiniboia Downs on Monday, a trio of other stakes races will be tantalizing appetizers on the eight-race program.

First up will be the $30,000 R.J. Speers, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward that goes as the third race and features a rematch between Pleasant Closing and Gotatigerbythetail.

The $30,000 Graduation, a 5  1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds, goes as race 4, and the field of eight includes six last-out winners.

The $50,000 Assiniboia Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, is race 6 and will see the multiple stakes winner Portales looking to carry her speed over one mile for the first time.

Pleasant Closing, a 4-year-old trained by Murray Duncan, has established himself as the top older horse on the grounds this season, taking two of three from the absent Balooga Bull.

In his last outing, which came in the 1 1/16-mile Wheat City, Pleasant Closing was all out to turn back Gotatigerbythetail, who finished a neck back as the runner-up.

Gotatigerbythetail, a 5-year-old trained by Ardell Sayler, had come into the Wheat City off a sharp 3  1/2-length victory while competing under first-level allowance terms at 7 1/2 furlongs.

Pleasant Closing, the 124-pound co-highweight, will be conceding six pounds to Gotatigerbythetail.

Tyrone Nelson retains the mount on Pleasant Closing, with Adolfo Morales returning aboard Gotatigerbythetail.

Lake Sawyer, who captured last year’s Wheat City but is winless in 10 subsequent starts, finished second behind Gotatigerbythetail in that one’s recent win and again ended the runner-up when competing under second-level allowance terms at one mile.

Jared Brown trains Lake Sawyer and Paul Nolan gets the call.

Megatron Ruler is the most experienced member of the Graduation field, having finished second behind Maddie’s Gold in his debut and then graduating handily, with both starts coming at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Maddie’s Gold also is in the Graduation lineup along with fellow debut winners Storm Chance, Missin Maggie, Regal Siver, and Alexandra S.

Portales, who is based at Canterbury Park with trainer Charlie Smith, sports a 3-2-0 record from 5 starts at Assiniboia Downs, with victories in last year’s Graduation and this year’s 5 1/2-furlong allowance prep for the Chantilly Stakes and the six-furlong Chantilly itself.

Adrian Ramos takes over aboard Portales, who will be looking for her first win at a distance beyond six furlongs but holds a decided class edge on her rivals.

The only other stakes winner in the Assiniboia Oaks field is A Girl’s Gotta Do, who romped by 7  1/2 lengths as the 1-9 favorite in her last start, the one-mile Gold Strike for Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies.