06/12/2003 11:00PM

Kalfaari seeks sixth straight win


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Kalfaari's five-race win streak could be in jeopardy here Sunday in the $35,000 Free Press at six furlongs.

Only six will face Kalfaari, Manitoba's 2002 champion older horse, but they include an entry of Wondrous Zeal and Vernon Invader. One could keep him honest early and the other could make him run late.

In his 2003 debut here May 24, Kalfaari bulled his way out of traffic early, ran off around the turn to take the lead, and then held Free Press entrant Deputy Country at bay in late stretch. Kalfaari won by three-quarters of a length and had something left after completing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.80.

Owned and trained by Clint Willson, Kalfaari has gotten into the habit of doing what he wants in his races. Once he gets to the lead he simply turns it up a notch every time he faces a fresh challenge, winning by whatever it takes. But, he may not be able to relax this time. Regular jockey Rohan Singh will ride Kalfaari.

Both Robnroy, trained by Rob Chabot for R and L Weir Stables, and Wondrous Zeal, owned and trained by Bill Smith, will keep Kalfaari honest early.

Robnroy arrives fit from Alberta following a sprint win versus allowance company, and Wondrous Zeal was visually impressive through the stretch in his latest win, versus $20,000 claimers at six furlongs.

Robnroy will have Assiniboia's 2002 riding champ, Jacques DesAutels, aboard, and Wondrous Zeal will be ridden by Anderson Ward.

Smith will be hoping that duo can take enough starch out of Kalfaari early to set the race up for Vernon Invader, the other half of his entry.

Vernon Invader makes his 2003 debut under second-leading rider Travis Hightower after winning three stakes races in 2002. He's won routes against better rivals than he'll meet Sunday.

Sir Pucker, trained by Harry Kube, won both the 2002 R.J. Speers and Gold Cup and could also make Kalfaari run late.

Sir Pucker is a strong late runner who has run twice in 2003, finishing fifth in both the Stampede Park Sprint Championship and the Teeworth Plate. Mike Iammarino has the mount.

Deputy Country, trained by Carl Anderson, finished second to Kalfaari in his 2003 debut.

Northern Ace, trained by Clayton Gray, will be a longshot but is in excellent form following a game win over allowance company going 5 1/2 furlongs May 17. He be ridden by leading rider Juan Crawford.