08/04/2012 1:47PM

Northlands: Commander looks strong in Fleming


Commander stands out in the $50,000 Don Fleming Handicap at Northlands Park on Monday. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up drew six horses and headlines the nine-race Heritage Day holiday card that begins at 1 p.m. Mountain.

Trained by Dennis Terry, Commander is shooting for his third straight stakes win at Northland,s and the manner in which he won the Spangled Jimmy on July 21 suggests he is going to succeed. With Kentucky Derby- and Preakness-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard, Commander bided his time for the first six furlongs of the one-mile race. Gutierrez moved Commander into contention on the stretch turn, and when he turned him loose at the top of the stretch he quickly made up two lengths on Footprint and drew off to win decisively.

Terry has been impressed with Commander since he took over as his trainer not long after he won the Journal in his first start at Northlands on June 23.

“He is a real pro,” said Terry. “I love the way he handles himself, and he does everything right. He is just a nice horse to be around. He couldn’t be doing any better, and I expect him to run another good race.”

Gutierrez retains the mount.

Senor Rojo ships in from Hastings, where he has finished behind Taylor Said in his last three races for trainer Dave Forster. He did get closer to Taylor Said in his latest start in the 1 1/16-mile Lieutenant Governors’ on July  2 – two lengths – and he just missed second by a nose to Three Wood. In his only start at Northlands Senor Rojo won the $75,000 Speed to Spare going a1 3/8 miles last year.

The 8-year-old Footprint could be coming up to a peak effort for trainer Joan Petrowski. He made what looked like a winning move in the Spangled Jimmy but was overwhelmed by Commander in the stretch. He was stretching out to a middle distance for the first time this year and he could take a big step forward in his second straight route. The added distance certainly won’t be a problem. He won the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at 1 3/8 miles in 2007. Last year he won two stakes and lost the Don Fleming by a neck to Professor Pollard.

Madamoiselle: Alywin will be flying late

Supporting the Don Fleming is the $50,000 Madamoiselle for fillies and mares. Alywin looks like the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile race that drew eight horses.

Trained by Amber Meyaard, Alywyn rallied to win the one-mile John Patrick on July 21 by three lengths, and there should be an honest pace to set up her strong late move. She was ridden by Scott Williams in the John Patrick, but Williams is riding undefeated Up Jumps a Monster in the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs on Monday. Ismael Mosqueira, who rode Alywyn to a second-place finish in the Wild Rose June 24, picks up the mount.

Smart Roar and Overvalued figure to set a brisk pace.

◗ With Rico Walcott aboard, Tempered Sapphire rallied to beat favored Madeira Park the $50,000 Northland Oaks on Friday night. Tempered Sapphire, trained by Rod Cone, paid $6.20 for her win in the one-mile race.