06/27/2008 12:00AM

This group a notch below the best


EDMONTON, Alberta – Sunday’s featured seventh race, a classified allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs offering a $20,200 purse, attracted a strong field of eight including stakes winners Banjo Babe, Braetta, and Minimus, plus the stakes-placed Debie Ginsburg.

For those fillies and mares, the race provides a nice alternative to knocking heads with the likes of Tanika, She’s Italian, and R Lucinda, who were scheduled to battle it out in the Wild Rose at the same distance 24 hours earlier.

Dodging those three rugged individuals bears no shame, and a victory or even a strong performance in this spot might well earn any of Sunday’s participants a return to the stakes ranks in the one-mile John Patrick Handicap two weeks hence.

Debie Ginsburg took three shots in stakes at the Stampede Park spring meet, finishing third behind Beth’s Best Bet and Tanika sprinting and then second twice to Tanika routing. A repeat of any of those efforts would put Debie Ginsburg right there in this spot. Shannon Beauregard retains the call from trainer Gord Amthor.

Despite the class relief for Debie Ginsburg this is no easy spot.

Minimus, 5-for-7 at this course, is fresh and dangerous. She has a sizzling work tab for trainer Red Smith since her last start April 25.

Minimus drew post 7, just outside the stretch-running Debie Ginsburg, and her jockey, Quincy Welch, may decide to press the issue early in a field not overly subscribed with sprint speed.

Trainer Don Gilkyson saddles the uncoupled pair of Banjo Babe and Braetta, and both fillies remain capable on their best days despite several below-average efforts this year.