10/05/2006 12:00AM

Going gets tougher for Hail to Dawn


EDMONTON, Alberta - Hail to Dawn had an easy time of it when she dismantled a field of Alberta-breds last month in the Sturgeon River, but things are going to get significantly tougher for her in Saturday's $50,000 Freedom of the City here at Northlands Park.

Sent away at odds of 11-1, Hail to Dawn made the improbable jump from a bottom-level maiden claimer to the winner's circle in the Sturgeon River. The race marked not only Hail to Dawn's second win of the year but also just the second of the season for rider Kenyatta Davis, who has been with Hail to Dawn every step of the way.

The Sturgeon River gave Hail to Dawn some experience running three turns on the Northlands Park oval, an advantage she holds over five of her six competitors in the one-mile Freedom of the City. Still, if Hail to Dawn is to make her third consecutive trip to the winner's circle for owners Viking Stable and Jeff Watt, she will need to defeat a tough collection of fillies, including stakes winners Apilonia and Miss Sassy Sue.

Miss Sassy Sue holds the distinction of being the only filly in the event to have won an unrestricted stakes this season. Miss Sassy Sue managed to parlay her maiden special weight victory into a two-length victory in the $50,000 Bird of Pay back in early September. Rickey Walcott will look to make it three victories in a row aboard Miss Sassy Sue, who is owned by Stan Ryan.

Apilonia finished second in the Sturgeon River but won the $60,000 Sales Stakes in August.