05/10/2006 12:00AM

Banjo Babe is sitting on a win


CALGARY, Alberta - Business was good at the entry box Tuesday morning, and first-year racing secretary Russ Armstrong was able to chart nine races for Friday's program here at Stampede Park.

Included in the evening card are a pair of solid optional $40,000 claiming sprints for fillies and mares, which came about after Armstrong received 13 entrants and split the race. The first of the two, the sixth race, may have come up as the tougher race.

Banjo Babe, who finished a neck behind her stablemate Braetta in a similar spot April 28, looks for her first win of the season following a 2005 campaign in which she won five races. Banjo Babe looked to be a winner in her last outing only to yield late to Braetta, who came back to win an open allowance race here last Sunday.

The one to catch is Jade Peony, who moves up after being claimed for $30,000 out of a win April 21.

Steffiena, who runs in the second optional claimer, the eighth race, was claimed for $30,000 on April 9 in her first start in Alberta after a productive 2005 campaign at Hastings. Leading rider Quincy Welch picks up the mount on Steffiena, and she figures to get a stalking trip.

* Knight's Covenant took a big step toward the May 20 Teeworth Plate last Saturday with a seven-length romp in a solid field of older horses. Knight's Covenant, the 2005 Alberta Derby winner, covered the mile in a meet-best clocking of 1:36.80 with rider Desmond Bryan easing him up.