07/15/2003 11:00PM

Double Time double tough

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SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - Double Time seeks his second stakes victory of the meeting in Friday's $5,000 Fred Mendel Memorial, and he should be the prohibitive favorite in the one-mile headliner.

A $15,000 claim by Redbird Farms at Hastings last fall, Double Time was unplaced in his first two starts of 2003, but then won the first allowance race of the meeting and the Inaugural, both at six furlongs. He comes off a win in a seven-furlong allowance race.

Double Time had problems making the turns in the Inaugural, almost costing himself the win. However, in the seven-furlong allowance race two weeks ago, he was able to stalk the pace under Rennie Latchman, handled the turns, and prevailed by 2 1/4 lengths.

If Double Time continues to improve with added yardage, his four foes are in trouble.

Rouge Royale has two seconds and two thirds from his four starts in 2003, finishing behind Double Time in three of those outings.

Usually better the farther he goes, Rouge Royale ran a little flat last time out in the seven-furlong allowance and was still seven lengths out of it at the head of the lane. He closed the gap to 4 3/4 lengths at the wire.

Jockey Serge Rocheleau will likely try to keep him closer to the pace here.

Good Old Sprite has been improving with each start this year and battled for the lead in his last outing before being caught by Double Time in the final quarter. In the money in 15 of 20 career starts, Good Old Sprite should get an ideal stalking trip and could score the upset under rider Tim Moccasin.

Britts Express and Gatopresson complete the field.

* With half the meet now in the books, Moccasin leads all jockeys with 22 wins, followed by Latchman and Rocheleau with 19 and 17 wins.

Don Bjarnarson and Hubert Pilon are tied atop the trainer standings with eight wins, while George Gervais is one win back in third.