06/22/2006 12:00AM

Marquis Downs: Wind Dancer returns


Eight horses will line up against Wind Dancer, the 2005 Saskatchewan horse of the year and champion 3-year-old, in the $6,000 Inaugural Handicap at Marquis Downs on Saturday night.

The other logical contenders for the Inaugural, which is a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward, include Double Time, Sand Rush, and Bleu Royale.

The first three weekends of racing at the 2006 meeting were hampered by rain and a wet racing surface, and the forecast calls for more showers this weekend. Last Sunday's card was canceled because of unsafe conditions, while the June 10 allowance prep for the Inaugural was marred by three horses falling when racing into the first turn.

Wind Dancer lost his action that day and galloped home fifth, beaten 18 1/4 lengths, with his regular rider Serge Rocheleau electing to just get his mount home safely.

Wind Dancer won 5 of 6 as a 3-year-old last year, four of them stakes, including the Saskatchewan Derby. A winner at distances ranging from six furlongs up to 1 1/16 miles, Wind Dancer should be stalking the early pace with his versatile running style.

Double Time has twice been named Saskatchewan's horse of the year and was victorious in front-running fashion in the spill-filled prep race over the sloppy surface. A winner of 20 of his 52 races, Double Time excels at sprinting and should be the one to catch.

Sand Rush defeated Double Time by 3 1/4 lengths here in the opening-day half-mile allowance feature, which also was run in the slop. But last time, Double Time turned the tables on Sand Rush in the six-furlong Inaugural prep.