07/20/2004 11:00PM

No Raylene will help 'Neechitoo'


Raylene has relocated to Woodbine, and without her at Northlands Park to scare anyone away, seven fillies and mares were entered for Friday's $40,000 John Patrick Handicap at one mile. The last two middle-distance filly/mare stakes races at Stampede Park, both won by reigning Alberta horse of the year Raylene, attracted fields of four and three, respectively.

Northern Neechitoo finished second on both of those occasions, in the one-mile Ken Pearson Memorial and the 1 1/16-mile Duchess of York. She has come back to impressively win a one-mile allowance here. While she is an obvious contender, Northern Neechitoo does her best running on the front end and will have to deal with the outside post, plus plenty of other speed in the Patrick field. She also will have a new rider in Real Simard. Her usual jockey, Quincy Welch, will be aboard Sly Lady.

Welch replaced Simard aboard Sly Lady for her last start, when she won the 6 1/2-furlong Wild Rose here on July 3. Sly Lady, the 5 1/2-length winner of last year's John Patrick, finished fifth in her only subsequent start last year before going to the sidelines with her racing future in doubt.

Potential upsetters in the John Patrick include A Shaky Start and Sweet Monarch. Over the past two years, A Shaky Start was responsible for Raylene's only losses in Alberta. A Shaky Start fashioned those upsets last year in the 6 1/2-furlong Chariot Chaser, the 1 1/16-mile Sonoma, and this spring in the six-furlong M.R. Jenkins Memorial. Sweet Monarch finished second in the Canadian Derby two years ago and has been running strongly in three starts since returning from a 20-month absence.