05/11/2010 11:00PM

Meet opens with card of short sprints


Northlands Park opens its 85-day meet Friday, and all eight races carded will be run at 3 1/2 furlongs. The first six days of the meet, which runs through Oct. 11, will consist of mostly 3 1/2-furlong races, racing secretary Jason Teague said.

"The horses didn't get to come in until April 14," he said. "We are slightly lower in terms of the numbers of horses currently on the grounds, but more horses are showing up every day, and we should be close to what we had here last year."

Last year, the Edmonton, Alberta, track was scheduled to run 96 days, but seven days were dropped at the end of the meet due to lack purse money. Overnight purses this year have dropped by an additional 5 percent to $85,000 per day. Stakes purses have been cut by 12 percent to $2.08 million, and there will be four fewer stakes.

The Grade 3 Canadian Derby will retain its $300,000 purse. The $75,000 Speed to Spare, for 3-year-olds and up, and the $75,000 Edmonton Distaff, for fillies and mares, will be part of the Canadian Derby card on Aug. 21.

The Fall Classic, which features seven stakes races for Alberta-breds is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Saturday, Sunday, and holiday post times will be 1 p.m. Mountain. Wednesday cards start at 6 p.m., and the first post on Fridays will be 7 p.m.

Leading trainer Jim Meyaard will be back to defend his title. But jockey Rickey Walcott and leading apprentice Omar Moreno won't be back to defend their titles.

According to Northlands officials, there are issues relating to Walcott's working visa that prevent him from riding at Northlands. Moreno, who won the Sovereign Award for the top apprentice rider in Canada last year, is riding at Woodbine where he is fifth in the jockey standings.

Cool Ventura, the horse of the year in Alberta in 2009, is back in training after taking the winter off.

Trainer Greg Tracy reported that Dandy Dora, the Alberta champion 3-year-old filly last year, has been retired. Tracy won't be here to start the meet. He is serving a 60-day suspension he received for failing to submit a urine sample at Turf Paradise. His suspension ends May 19. Tracy also has drug-possession charges pending against him in the United States.

Woke Up Laughing could be the one to beat in a first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds that will serve as the opening-day feature.