04/11/2006 11:00PM

Gilkyson charge likes off track


CALGARY, Alberta - Wet conditions continue to disrupt training schedules here at Stampede Park, and the result has been short fields and anxious trainers looking to get another workout for their runners.

One trainer who is not flustered by the early-season turmoil is Don Gilkyson, who is in his 50th year of training on this circuit. Gilkyson has scaled down his operation a bit from the mid-1990's, when he had a powerhouse stable led by three-time Alberta champion older horse Arctic Laur, who retired as the leading money winner among Alberta-breds.

On Tuesday morning, Gilkyson ambled over to the race office during intermittent showers to enter Braetta in an optional $40,000 claimer, which will run as the featured seventh race on Friday evening. Braetta did not win a race last year, due in part to her stablemate Banjo Babe, who beat her four times and is expected to be one of the favorites in Saturday's filly and mare Sales Stakes.

Gilkyson resisted the temptation to drop Braetta in for a price and has watched the 7-year-old train forwardly this spring. Although six furlongs is not Braetta's favored distance the course may play "long" if it is muddy and tiring, and Braetta is 5 for 8 on off tracks.

Braetta's main rival is Kellys Guest, who has won five sprints at this distance, all at this course, and is 3 for 4 in the off going.