08/21/2002 11:00PM

'Full Scream' too classy in Canadian Derby


EDMONTON, Alberta - A strong undercard, headed by the $75,000 Edmonton Distaff, supports the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park Saturday.

In the Distaff, which is richest race of the year at Northlands for fillies and mares, Full Scream Ahead tries to put an exclamation mark on what has been an outstanding season.

Full Scream Ahead arrived in Alberta after racing at Hastings Park and northern California and won the $40,000 John Patrick on July 19. She has been dominant in her two starts here and a victory Saturday would push her seasonal earnings to more than $115,000.

Fast fractions are likely in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff, and trainer Ron Smith anticipates that Full Scream Ahead will be near the front.

"The current owners said before they claimed her that they used to send her to the front all the time but they took her off the pace and she ran good," said Smith. "But she sure wants to be right close to the lead. We kind of want her stalking early, but if we're in the front, we're in the front."

Toppers Happy is expected to be a factor coming from off the pace. Despite having finished nearly six lengths in back of Full Scream Ahead last out, Toppers Happy is ready to challenge her on Saturday, said trainer Rae Johnson.

"She gives 110 percent every time out," said Johnson. "She's very consistent and very versatile so she can come from off [the pace] or run up front. Her and jockey Peter Wong make a great team and he'll just have to read the first half-mile and make a decision from there."

* In the second race Saturday, former Canadian Derby prospects Exclusive Banker and Intact battle in an allowance for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs. Neither horse fared well in the prep races for the Canadian Derby as the distances got longer, and they will look to rebound at a shorter distance.

* Saturday's sixth race is a 1 1/16-mile allowance for fillies and mares that attraced Slewability, whom many expected to be entered in the Edmonton Distaff. A 5-year-old, Slewability finished fourth to Full Scream Ahead in the John Patrick, and trainer Don Gilkyson has elected to forgo another duel with that filly. He will likely point her to the Sept. 21 Fall Classic Distaff for Alberta-breds.

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