08/25/2002 11:00PM

Filly wins the big one in Alberta

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EDMONTON, Alberta - The 73rd running of the $150,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park had everything you could ask for. With a large field, no clear favorite, and beautiful weather, the biggest crowd in recent memory watched as Lady Shari become just the third filly in history to win the biggest race of the year in Alberta.

While there was never any question about the ability of the Kentucky-bred Lady Shari, racing on a smaller track and flying in just three days in advance of the big race were concerns for both jockey Constant Montpellier and trainer David Coty. A further complication was the fact the filly has undergone chiropractic and acupuncture therapy recently. But, according to Montpellier, she handled the adversity like a veteran.

"She was a real pro out there today," he said with a smile after the race. "I was a little concerned with it being a new track and thought she might be a little rank in the gate, but she broke clean and I was pleased with that. In the early stages I had to take her to task a little bit because she wanted to fall back a little too far, but once we hit the backstretch the second time I knew she could win. It was only a matter of when to ask her to open up."

Montpellier asked her to make a move at the quarter pole when she pulled even with the leaders, and she exploded through the final turn, moving seven lengths clear of the pack when she hit the top of the lane. It was a powerful move that fans will talk about for years and put a smile on the face of trainer David Coty, who was a bridesmaid here last year.