07/23/2008 11:00PM

He's No Piker tops Minn. Derby


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Statebred 3-year-olds are the featured attraction at Canterbury Park on Saturday in the $60,000 Minnesota Derby and the $60,000 Minnesota Oaks.

He's No Piker, who hasn't finished worse than second in four local outings, may prove the favorite in the field of 12 entered in the Minnesota Derby. After finishing second in two allowance sprints here in May, He's No Piker was tried at the Minnesota Derby distance of a mile and 70 yards in a $25,000 claiming race for nonwinners of two. He bested older statebred foes in that June 13 race with a determined late run. He's No Piker followed up that effort with a win sprinting over allowance rivals and has breezed twice in preparation for the Minnesota Derby. Ry Eikleberry has the call for trainer Mac Robertson.

Rock Ridge Road, was the last horse to best He's No Piker, defeating him by a neck in May. He has not run since that May 26 race. Jockey Derek Bell has the return call on Rock Ridge Road, who breezed a mile last week for trainer Percy Scherbenske.

Sahan, an impressive front-running winner on the opening day of this meeting, ran fourth behind He's No Piker when tried around two turns for the first time last month. Sahan rebounded off that effort with a 7 1/4-length victory going a mile over allowance foes. His bullet breeze Tuesday indicates he will be a strong factor in the derby. Trainer Tammy Domenosky has named Dean Butler to ride.

The Minnesota Oaks, also at a mile and 70 yards, attracted nine statebred fillies, and nearly every runner has a chance.

A. J. Bakes and Pretty as a Smile will vie for favoritism in the Oaks, which will be their third skirmish at this meeting. A. J. Bakes repelled a bid from Pretty as a Smile to prevail in the Lady Slipper Stakes in her first start of the year. A. J. Bakes finished sixth to Pretty as a Smile's fifth last out in the Princess Elaine Stakes here July 4, which came against fillies and mares. Trainer Todd Hoffrogge has decided to remove blinkers from A. J. Bakes for the Oaks, and she will be piloted by Scott Stevens.

Trainer Gary Scherer gave Pretty as a Smile seven weeks between her third-place finish to A. J. Bakes in the Lady Slipper and her fifth in the Princess Elaine Stakes.

Hills of Roses looms a gate-to-wire threat if she goes unchallenged early. A winner by more than 11 lengths in her sole try around two turns, Hills of Roses will be ridden by Butler for trainer Justin Evans.

Lady of Mischief gained some valuable experience with a win around two turns while besting older rivals two weeks ago.

Jane's Gold has won 3 of 4 starts at Canterbury, including two allowance victories this season. Laid off since the first week in June, Jane's Gold breezed a mile in preparation for the Oaks last week for Scherbenske.