07/17/2006 11:00PM

'Character' wins Ky Alta in return

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EDMONTON, Alberta - With only a neck separating them at the wire, both Bear Character and Bell n' Gone enhanced their Canadian Derby prospects in the one-mile Ky Alta Handicap here at Northlands last Saturday.

After months of traveling, Bear Character celebrated his return to Edmonton by winning the narrow decision with an impressive stretch drive to track down Bell n' Gone, last year's Alberta 2-year-old champion.

The Kentucky-bred Bear Character, owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stable and trained by Dale Greenwood, went on an extended tour of North America last year after capturing the Edmonton Juvenile. Bear Character ventured to Woodbine, where he won the Swynford, then Belmont, Gulfstream, Turfway Park, Keeneland, and finally back again to Woodbine to close out his tour with three successive third-place finishes.

Bear Character was a 2-1 favorite in the Alberta Derby at Stampede Park in June but posed no serious threat to Halo Steven in finishing fourth.

Bell n' Gone, runner-up in the Alberta Derby, took a two-length lead into the stretch of the Ky Alta and was easily best of the others in a five-horse field. Vancouver invader Rey Del Camino was third.

* Ice Girl, the 5-2 favorite under jockey Perry Winters, took Sunday's John Patrick Handicap for fillies and mares by a nose over Banjo Babe. Banjo Babe was disqualified for causing interference on the final turn.