05/04/2005 12:00AM

Easy lead expected for Tantoo


CALGARY, Alberta - Tantoo, a 9-year-old with an affinity for this course, looks to be loose on the lead in a field of seven older fillies and mares in Friday's featured eighth race for $30,000 claimers.

Tantoo opened her campaign in the filly and mare Sales Stakes on April 16 and led to the head of the stretch before yielding to A Shaky Start in the final furlong.

Despite drawing the outside post in Friday's six-furlong race, Tantoo is expected to make the lead under leading rider Quincy Welch. She has always run

well fresh at this meet and has 11 victories from 28 local starts.

Wildly Ruth, claimed out of her last start for $22,000, moves up in class for new trainer Pam McDougall and could be first on the scene if Tantoo falters. Her best races have come from on or near the lead, but the 5-year-old does not have the kind of speed to test Tantoo early.

Bar None Ranches sends out an entry in Code's Decree, third in the Sales Stakes after chasing Tantoo in the early going, and Lakota Spirit, who rallied in her seasonal debut to finish second to Jade Peony at this level on April 22.

* Trainer Red Smith has retired Fancy As after the 7-year-old gelding came up with suspensory problems following his victory April 17 in a prep race for the Stampede Park Sprint Championship.

Fancy As won the Sprint here two years ago and was horse of the year in Alberta in 2001 after capturing the Alberta Derby, Canadian Derby, and B.C. Derby.