06/28/2008 12:00AM

Grieves's pair have opposite styles


EDMONTON, Alberta - The trail to the $300,000 Canadian Derby on Aug. 23 begins with the Western Canada Handicap on Tuesday afternoon's Canada Day holiday card. The $50,000 race at 6 1/2 furlongs drew a modest field of eight 3-year-olds, with other camps undoubtedly looking ahead to the one-mile Ky Alta on July 12 as a more suitable place to prepare for the grueling 1 3/8-mile distance of the derby, the highlight of this 61-day meet.

The field is dotted with plenty of sprint speed, and trainer Ron Grieves may hold the best hand as he saddles the coupled entry of speedster Little Davey and late closer Stellar Lad. In the 1 1/16-mile Alberta Derby 17 days ago, Little Davey was used in the early stages and faded to fifth after setting the pace to the quarter pole. His stablemate Papa Time closed well for second - beaten a length by Arkhill - and the Grieves camp may use the same strategy again.

Quincy Welch is back aboard Little Davey and will break the honest gelding from post 6, while Stephan Heiler rides Stellar Lad from the outside post. Little Davey has tactical speed and has won sprinting from off the pace, giving Welch options as the presence of Its Launch Time, I'm Slick Two, and Garys Buddy to his inside ensures rapid early fractions.

Its Launch Time drew the rail and comes off an impressive score in the Golden Boy, where he held on well down the long lane at Assiniboia. Desmond Bryan will ride for trainer Monica Russell. Jim's Choice and Just Call Me Duke, stakes winners last year, seek a return to their juvenile form.