05/01/2013 12:35PM

Northlands: 80-day meet begins with retooled schedule


It won’t be business as usual at the 2013 Northlands Park meet. The 80-day season gets under way this Friday at 6 p.m. Mountain.

There will be no racing on Sundays this year. Instead, management is trying to expand its export business by running on Mondays. Beginning on Canada Day, July 1, Northlands will race on 10 consecutive Mondays ending on Labor Day, Sept. 2.

“Our Sundays haven’t been that strong in recent years, and since our export business has been growing, we thought we would experiment with Mondays,” said Chris Roberts, venue director at Northlands. “We’re also going to try and tap the local seniors market. We’ve made arrangement to bus in groups from seniors’ homes, and we’ll cater to them when they arrive here with value-added menus, etcetera”

The Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby is the only graded stakes at Northlands. The 1 3/8-mile feature, which always draws the largest crowd of the year, is scheduled for Aug. 17. Supporting the derby are the $75,000 Edmonton Distaff for fillies and mares and the $50,000 Westerner for 3-year-olds and up.

The second biggest day of the year is Fall Classic Day on Sept. 21. The $50,000 Breeders Handicap for 3-year-olds and up headlines seven stakes races restricted to Alberta-breds that day.

The $100,000, 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare for 3-year-olds and up is set for Labor Day.

Toccetive, who won the Canadian Derby and Speed to Spare last year for trainer Joan Petrowski, is being trained by Dale Greenwood this year.

Petrowski, the leading trainer in 2011, is in the middle of a 180-day suspension that started Dec. 14. She received the suspension after a horse she trained, Panaramic Smile, tested positive for lidocaine following his win in a $7,500 claiming race July 21. Petrowski will be back in business June 11.

Also missing the first weekend of racing is Robertino Diodoro, who was the leading trainer in 2010. Diodoro was suspended for 15 days when a horse he trains in California, Apply, tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide. Apply was found to have 39.55 millimoles per liter of plasma. The permitted level is 37 millimoles. Diodoro’s suspension ends May 6.

The opening-day feature drew a solid field of seven fillies and mares going six furlongs in a $25,000 optional claimer.

Ron Grieves, last year’s leading trainer, has solid chances with stakes winners Two Horn Unicorn and Jazz Time Girl.

Jazz Time Girl won the 2012 Fall Classic Distaff by a head over Two Horn Unicorn, who won the Distaff in 2011.

Salsa Express has compiled excellent record at the distance and could be dangerous if she breaks alertly from post 2.