09/08/2004 11:00PM

Invaders tough to beat

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SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - A pair of Alberta invaders headline Saturday's $15,000 Saskatchewan Derby, the seventh of eight races on the last card of the meet.

Cool Lad and Noble Dane should vie for favoritism when they go off in the 1 1/16-mile feature against four Saskatoon-based 3-year olds.

Cool Lad has been competitive in allowance races in Alberta this year, and his connections even tried him in the $100,000 Alberta Derby in June. He finished seventh.

Cool Lad's lone victory this year came at Saturday's distance July 31, when he wired the field, defeating Canadian Derby third-place finisher Bonspiel by a nose.

In two subsequent starts, however, Cool Lad has flattened out down the lane versus optional claiming milers and been well beaten. Serge Rocheleau, the meet's leading rider here, picks up the mount.

Noble Dane was claimed two starts ago, when he first appeared for a $15,000 price. Noble Dane finished third that day, beaten by 4-year-olds, but he returned Aug. 27 to score going 6 1/2 furlongs for his new connections.

Noble Dane has faced Cool Lad once in 2004 and finished just three lengths behind him when running a mile. Doug Jones picks up the mount.

Of the locals, Signal to Go may be the one to put pressure on Cool Lad early. Signal to Go comes off a front-running victory in the Aug. 21 Shortgrass Heritage, in which he beat the other three locals in this field.

Signal to Go has since worked in a sharp 1:01 for five furlongs and will try to steal it on the lead.

Stage Whisper was the top juvenile in the province in 2003 but has yet to win this year. His best efforts of the year came in the last two stakes races here, when he was second to Signal to Go in the Heritage and second to Steel Copy in the City of Bridges.

Astapay has two wins and four third-place finishes from six starts in 2004, including an allowance win versus Signal to Go and Stage Whisper. Astapay also ran third in the Heritage and City of Bridges.

Completing the field is Britts Signal, who has just a maiden victory in seven starts.