08/10/2012 11:56AM

Northlands: Heavenly Chorus has good chance to end drought on Sunday


Trainer Greg Tracy hasn’t slowed down since Claresmiezie gave him his 1,000th winner in the Assiniboia Oaks at Assiniboia Downs last Monday. Tracy is up to 1,003 winners now and is looking to extend his lead in the trainer standings over Ron Grieves at Northlands Park when he runs Heavenly Chorus in a $15,000 claiming race that will serve as Sunday’s feature. The six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew six horses and goes as race 4 on an eight-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Mountain.

Heavenly Chorus is winless since he won a $40,000 optional claimer at Northlands last year in early August, but he still looks like the one to beat. He is coming off a second-place finish in a $22,000 claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs July 22 and owns the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure in the field. Heavenly Chorus’s best race this year was in his seasonal debut at Hastings in the $50,000 George Royal Stakes, where he finished a close third behind Almost Time and Jump Up and Kissme. He has tactical speed, and with no clear front-runner in the field it wouldn’t be surprising to see leading rider Rico Walcott put him on the lead if he breaks sharply.

Thomas Baines showed improved speed in his first start at Northlands Park, when he finished second in a $15,000 claiming race June 22. The addition of blinkers for the first time in his 26-race career may have had something to do with his newfound speed, but trainer Robertino Diodoro wasn’t happy with the performance and is removing them.

A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding, Thomas Baines was stakes placed in the California Derby at Golden Gate and in a minor stakes at Hollywod Park as a 3-year-old, but is looking for his first win since he won a $40,000 optional claiming race on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita in January 2011.

Diodoro also has entered Mark of a Warrior, who won twice at Turf Paradise this year and rolled to an easy 3 1/2-length win in a $22,000 claiming race in his first start at Northlands on May 18. He is coming off an even third-place finish for $15,000 on July 28.

Desert Train, trained by Rod Haynes, won at this level July 6 and then finished third in the same race Heavenly Chorus exits.

Wild Crush and Wicked Woman of Ny round out the field.