07/31/2003 11:00PM

Derby Duke takes step up in class


EDMONTON, Alberta - Derby Duke is stepping up a notch into optional $35,000 claiming company in Sunday's feature at Northlands Park. He is coming off a 3 1/4-length win against $28,000 claimers.

A field of seven was entered for the 6 1/2-furlong sprint.

Derby Duke has two victories in three outings this year at the $28,000 level, but has not started since June 21. He will have the services of regular rider Richard Hamel.

Also appearing for the first time since June 21 is Sweet Drummer, who finished seventh in the Journal Handicap.

In his other outings this season, Sweet Drummer had a win and a third at Sunday's level and an earlier score for $28,000. Leading jockey Quincy Welch rides.

Moving up from $28,000 company are Exclusive Banker, with Real Simard, and Captain Creek, with Leanne Painter aboard.

Remaining at Saturday's plateau are Vying Road and Smooth Cruiser. Both are shooting for their first wins of the year.

Regal Ability rounds out the field.

Seven nominees for Sonoma

The Alberta season's premier event for 3-year-old fillies, next Saturday's $75,000 Sonoma Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, has attracted seven nominations.

Heading the list is Raylene, Alberta's 2002 champion 2-year-old filly, who has won four of the five stakes offered for her division on the circuit this year.

The nominees also include Chariot Chaser winner A Shaky Start, who handed Raylene her only defeat this year, along with Eradikate, Jadebquick, Lakota Spirit, Reagally Light, and To Dream Again.