07/17/2008 12:00AM

Fast pace would help Standoff


SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - Five older horses will do battle in Saturday's $7,500 City Centre Bingo Early Bird Handicap over seven furlongs.

Standoff has 9 wins from 20 local starts, including a win in the Saskatoon Handicap two races ago.

A five-time winner last year, including a seven-length victory in this race, Standoff swept all four stakes events for older horses here in 2007 and will be hoping for a quick pace to run at to best utilize his late-closing style.

Bear's Saga won a $5,000 claimer prior to running fourth to Standoff in the Saskatoon. Last time out, Bear's Saga opened up down the lane in the allowance prep for this race and won by 3 1/4 lengths. Standoff finished third, beaten a nose for second by Resurgent.

Bethune won the allowance prep for the Saskatoon after having beaten $13,000 claimers at Stampede Park in April. Based on that easy allowance score, Bethune was made the even-money favorite in the Saskatoon but broke slowly and could only rally for third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Standoff.

Resurgent has been a model of consistency this year, but unfortunately for his connections that has meant second-place finishes in his four starts. He will likely try to get a stalking position behind the speedy Alberta shipper Vested in Slew.

Vested in Slew is a lightly raced 6-year-old with only nine career starts. If he is any semblance of his old self he could be very difficult to catch.

He has started just twice this year, finishing fifth versus $30,000 claimers at Stampede and a distant sixth against allowance foes at Lethbridge Fairgrounds in Alberta. Vested in Slew's claim to fame is a third-place finish in last year's Stampede Park Sprint Championship. Rider Tim Moccasin can be expected to send him from the gate.