05/14/2012 11:37AM

Northlands: Fast pace could benefit Pigtails in six-furlong sprint

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The preliminaries are over and racing becomes a bit more serious when the first mid-week card of the Northlands Park meet starts at 6 p.m. Mountain on Wednesday. The first four days of the meet were filled with 3 1/2-furlong races and most were decided by which horses left the starting gate the quickest. Wednesday, seven of the eight races have been carded at six furlongs and the added distance certainly brings a lot more horses into the equation.

The only 3 1/2-furlong race is an optional $32,000 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies that has been slotted as the seventh race, which is the traditional spot for the feature. Miss Caterina, a winner of a $25,000 claiming race at Gulfstream Park on March 18, could end up a slight favorite over Quite Contrary, who won her only start at Norhtlands as a 2-year-old.

The second race, a $22,000 claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs, is probably more interesting for racing purists, however.

There is plenty of speed in the field and that could help Pigtails, who is making her first start at Northlands for trainer Tim Rycroft.

A 4-year-old British Columbia-bred, Pigtails had raced exclusively at Hastings, where she compiled a 3-2-3 record from 14 starts for earnings of $82,946. She won the $52,000 Fantasy as a 2-year-old and in her last start in 2011 she placed in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes on Oct. 1. Her only win last year was in a $12,500 claiming race prior to her big effort in the Sales Stakes.

Pigtails attracts apprentice jockey Scott Williams.

The horse they will have to catch is Malakwa, who is coming off a sharp win going 3 1/2 furlongs in a $15,000 claiming race May 5.

Trained by Lianne Knechtel, Malakwa came back to work a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.20 May 11 and appears to be ready for another big effort. She has won three two-turn sprints in her career so the added distance shouldn’t be an issue. The presence of Laughlin, however, is another matter .

Laughlin, trained by Jeri Robertson, used her good speed to win three races at the recently concluded Turf Paradise meet. She will be making her first start since she broke poorly but still ran a good race to finish third in an optional $25,000 claiming race March 3. She signaled her readiness with a bullet five-furlong move at Northlands in 1:02 May 10.