08/19/2010 1:23PM

Distorted Dave figures live longshot in Canadian Derby

Benoit & Associates
Distorted Dave has shipped in from California for Saturday’s Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park.

EDMONTON, Alberta – With the likely favorites possessing plenty of speed in the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Saturday, the race is crying for a horse to come from off the pace to spring an upset.

Distorted Dave, 12-1 on the morning line, could be the horse we’re looking for. He certainly has the pedigree to get the 1 3/8 miles, and that can be half the battle in marathons. He is by Distorted Humor, which would almost be enough by itself, but it gets better. Distorted Dave is the first foal out of Crazy Ensign, who was a stakes winner going 1 3/8 miles on turf in the CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap at Del Mar and also finished third in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon going 1 1/4 miles on grass at Santa Anita. Distorted Dave’s 376 Tomlinson Figure for the distance stands out in the 10-horse field. The only other horse to crack the 300 mark is Dyna Stroll at 303.

Distorted Dave is in the very capable hands of trainer John Sadler, who thought enough of him to give him a shot in the Grade 2 Lexington at Keeneland after he got his nonwinners-of-two condition in an $80,000 optional claimer at Santa Anita last March. Also, according to DRF’s Formulator, Sadler is very good at getting horses to go the rarely run distance of the Canadian Derby. Over the past five years, he has started 12 horses at 1 3/8 miles and three have won, for a 25 percent strike rate.

Sadler, who will be on hand Saturday, shipped Distorted Dave to Northlands a couple of weeks ago, where local trainer Red Smith has been overseeing his daily routine. Smith, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame with 2,444 wins, won the Canadian Derby with Fancy As in 2001. Fancy As went on to win the Grade 2 British Columbia Derby and the Grade 3 Premiers at Hastings. Smith thinks Distorted Dave has a shot at pulling off the upset.

“I give him a longshot rattle,” said Smith. “I think he’s the real thing and being by Distorted Humor he should get the distance.”

Distorted Dave has never run on dirt or a bull ring, but Smith was pleased with the way he handled both in his six-furlong move in 1:14.60 on Aug. 15.

“He was fine with the dirt and the turns,” Smith said. “He’s the right size, has the right temperament, and he is coming up to the race in excellent shape.”

Gold Medallion, at 8-1, is another horse you can make a case for if you ignore his last start. He arrived at Northlands for the Count Lathum with strong credentials, coming off of a fourth behind Krypton in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont and a second in the $150,000 Victoria Park at Woodbine on June 21. Sent off as the second choice behind No Hesitation, Gold Medallion finished a tiring fourth, more than 20 lengths behind No Hesitation.

His trainer, Robertino Diodoro, is expecting a much better race Saturday.

“I don’t know how to explain his last race, but something wasn’t right,” Diodoro said. “The running hadn’t even started, and he was already going out the back door. We didn’t know him that well and when he was a little finicky about his eating and was flat as a pancake before the race, we thought that just might be his temperament. All I know is that he has been training and eating a lot more aggressively leading up to this race.”

True Metropolitan looks to rebound

There are two strong supporting features on the 13-race card, headed by the $75,000 Speed to Spare for 3-year-olds and up. Returning to Northlands, where he won the won the 1 3/8-mile race in 2007 and 2008, is two-time Sovereign Award winner True Metropolitan.

Trained by Terry Jordan, True Metropolitan hasn’t won a race since he captured the Grade 3 Eclipse at Woodbine in 2008. He has been very sharp during the early part of his races this year, but he hasn’t been able to carry his speed the whole way. He is coming off of a second-place finish behind Double Shuffle, also in the field, in the R J Speers at Assiniboia Downs.

“I’ve trained him a little harder leading up to this, so hopefully he’ll be a little more relaxed when he runs,” Jordan said. “He’s doing well.”

True Metropolitan’s usual rider, Jim McAleney, will make the trip from Woodbine.

Trick of the North, based at Hastings with trainer Barbara Heads, has been installed as the 2-1 favorite off of his win over Teide in the Grade 3 Premiers at the distance last year and a sharp score over Spaghetti Mouse in the B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 2.

Cool Ventura, last year’s winner, is coming off an improved performance behind Andiotis in the 1 1/16-mile Westerner and should relish the added distance.

According to trainer Jim Meyaard, Andiotis is full of himself following his win in the Westerner and should be heard from late.

Holy Nova, La Rocca meet again

The $75,000 City of Edmonton Distaff for fillies and mares features a rematch between Holy Nova and La Rocca. Holy Nova got the best of La Rocca when they met in the Grade 3 Ballerina at Hastings last year.

Holy Nova, trained by Alan May, tuned up for the Distaff with a fourth-place finish against males in a $40,000 optional claimer going six furlongs Aug. 7. She was a late scratch when she ran off on post parade as the heavy favorite in the Madamoiselle six days earlier.

Jordan, who also trains La Rocca, thinks the outcome will be different in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff.

“La Rocca is 10 times better than she was last year,” he said.

La Rocca is coming off of a front-running win in the $150,000 Ontario Matron at Woodbine on July 25. In her only start at Northlands, she won the $75,000 Sonoma last year.

La Rocca likes to be involved early, however, and she could have her hands full with Shakenwithanolive. Trained by Diodoro, Shakenwithanolive has the home-track advantage and is coming off of back-to-back front-running wins in the John Patrick and Madamoiselle.

Kaweah Princess will be trying to get over the top following four straight second-place finishes in stakes races at Hastings. Kaweah Princess likes to stalk and she should appreciate the expected lively pace.