04/28/2005 12:00AM

Chief Mtn exits fast prep race


CALGARY, Alberta - Saturday's $50,000 Stampede Park Sprint Championship promises to be highly competitive with six stakes winners in the field of seven.

Deputy Country, Alberta's champion sprinter of 2004 as well as the province's horse of the year, is highweighted at 121 pounds but had his reputation sullied somewhat in the Sprint prep April 16.

Chief Mtn, fit from a winter campaign at Turf Paradise, tackled Deputy Country early in that six-furlong race and was a handy three-length winner in 1:10.20. The clocking was easily the best of the young meet and may earn Chief Mtn the role of favorite Saturday.

Deputy Country should improve off the effort as he was pinned down along the inside and did not appear to appreciate the trip.

Quincy Welch, who rode Chief Mtn last time out, raised some eyebrows by choosing to switch to Rindanica on Saturday. The 5-year-old Rindanica enters the race without benefit of a prep, but has worked sharply for trainer Riley Rycroft. He was third in this race last April despite a troubled trip.

Fly Esteem, an upset winner of the Alberta Derby here last June, will keep the fractions honest.

Kat Kool, a double stakes winner during his 3-year-old campaign last year, is a threat from off the pace and has trained in superb fashion for trainer Red Smith.

Sixthirtyjoe did not fire in the prep but endured a wide trip and rates a look at a price.