05/12/2004 11:00PM

Fly Esteem might be alone early


CALGARY, Alberta - Fly Esteem, winner of the major prep for Saturday's President's at Stampede Park, will be the 119-pound highweight and probable favorite in a field of six for the six-furlong handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

The $40,000 President's is the first stakes race for local runners on the trail to the 74th Alberta Derby on June 19.

Fly Esteem, a front-running winner of the restricted Alberta Premier's Futurity last September, opened his 3-year-old season by employing similar tactics in his prep score May 2.

An Alberta-bred, Fly Esteem was all out to fend off Chief Mtn in the recent sprint. His chances are enhanced Saturday because Chief Mtn, favored in the prep, will not contest the President's after his training was interrupted by physical problems.

Desmond Bryan, riding in the best form of his career, retains the mount. He will break Fly Esteem from post 2 and should look to get out front early.

Noble Halo is a lightly raced invader from Assiniboia Downs who comes into the race off moderate works, and unless he can challenge Fly Esteem it appears that Bryan will be able to control the pace.

Saw Grass Sabre, a wire-to-wire winner of a conditioned allowance on April 30, comes from the leading barn of trainer Red Smith and is another candidate to force the early fractions.

Ol Fifty, stakes placed at 2, closed from well back to capture an allowance in his seasonal bow on April 16. He appears to be the major beneficiary should a speed duel develop.