09/17/2003 11:00PM

It's Regal Ability vs. They Call Me Cody


EDMONTON, Alberta - Regal Ability, a 4-year-old who led wire to wire to win the Speed to Spare at 26-1, will have an opportunity to prove that he is for real in Saturday's $50,000 Alberta Breeders' Handicap.

Regal Abililty is the co-highweight at 121 pounds with They Call Me Cody in the 1 1/16-mile race for older horses, part of the seventh annual Alberta Fall Classics. The Breeders', with a field of seven, is one of the more interesting races on a program that features seven $50,000 stakes for Alberta-breds.

Regal Ability went into the 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare having raced only twice this year. He was late getting started because of health problems, including a quarter crack, which resulted him in being scratched from three scheduled outings at Calgary this spring.

Regal Ability finally ran in August at Northlands in a pair of 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming sprints, the first of which he won.

While Regal Ability was unable to carry his speed last year in the Canadian Derby at 1 3/8 miles, his rider, Richard Hamel, was brimming with confidence when trainer-owner Don Gilkyson assured him in the paddock that he would have a fit horse under him for the Speed to Spare.

Hamel found Regal Ability had another gear when They Call Me Cody came to him on the last turn, and he prevailed by a neck after a stretch duel.

They Call Me Cody, with Perry Winters aboard, has won two stakes this year, and this race gives him an opportunity to clinch division honors.

A possible upsetter could be Topwynson, who has been racing well in optional claimers. He will carry 116 pounds, including Leanne Painter.

Completing the field are Candid Remark, Shivermetimber, Major Oak, and Born to Be Zak.

In the day's other six stakes:

* The Red Diamond Express, at 6 1/2 furlongs, pits aging veteran Timely Ruckus against Sixthirtyjoe.

Sixthirtyjoe, bought for just $100, enters the race with lifetime earnings of $314,045, and trainer Deanne Davies is looking for a return to form after Sixthirtyjoe finished seventh in the R.J. Speers at Assiniboia on Sept. 6.

The 5-year-old Sixthirtyjoe appeared to handle the trip to Winnipeg without any problems, but on the day of the race he was a wreck, according to his trainer.

"He was washed out in his last race," said Davies. "I've never seen him like that before. He shipped well, and everything seemed okay the day before. He's been fine since he's been back in his own barn, and he'll be ready."

Jockey Real Simard should be able to settle Sixthirtyjoe in behind the early speed of Smooth Cruiser and Fussy's Kid.

* With Kentucky-bred Raylene ineligible, A Shaky Start will be the overwhelming favorite in the Alberta Oaks, a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

A Shaky Start is coming off an impressive win in the 3-year-old filly Sale Stakes here Sept. 5. She is the only filly to defeat Canadian Derby champion Raylene this year.

* The 1 1/16-mile Fall Classic Distaff is missing Sly Lady, who is done for the year, but there is no shortage of talent with Code's Decree and Slewability leading the way. Also in the mix is Northern Neechitoo, who ran her best race of the year in her last start.

* Canadian Derby third-place finisher Reb's Drummer is the class of the field of nine in the Beaufort, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

* In the Sturgeon River, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies, A Classa Red Wine will be favored to solidify her position as the champion of her division in Alberta.

* The field for the Alberta Premier's Futurity, a one-mile race for 2-year-olds, includes Birdcatcher runner-up Fly Esteem.

- additional reporting by Lee Nohos