10/02/2008 11:00PM

Meet-ending feature matches nine

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Racing secretary Fred Hilts kept the entry box open Thursday morning for any last-minute stragglers looking for a spot on the Sunday card, filling nine races for closing day of the 61-day Northlands Park meet.

The ninth-race finale is easily the best race of the day, matching nine older runners going a mile in a race where the contention runs deep.

Rapid 'n Ready draws post 2 and moves up a notch to this $22,000 claiming level after a handy score sprinting against $17,500 company on Sept. 21.

Formal deal next week?

The uncertainty surrounding the 2009 season in Alberta dogs horsemen as they get ready to depart for the winter.

Calgary's Stampede Park, host to the spring meet the past several years, announced in June that its facility would not be available next year.

Negotiations between representatives of the Alberta Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Northlands Park resulted in a media advisory issued on Aug. 21 stating that the two parties had reached an understanding to conduct a "minimum of 100 live days of Thoroughbred racing during the 3-year period 2009-2011."

Mat Monaco, executive director of the HBPA, said Thursday he was "confident that a formal contract can be signed, possibly as early as next week."