07/05/2012 1:33PM

Northlands: Minutesandtouches drops from stakes to face Freedoms Traveller

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Minutesandtouches will try to make amends for his loss as the favorite in the $50,000 Journal when he runs in a $40,000 optional claiming race at Northlands Park on Saturday. The one-mile feature for 3-year-olds and up drew seven horses, including the 2011 local horse of the year, Freedoms Traveller.

Mintuesandtouches, who was based in Southern California until this year, looks like the one they will have to catch and beat. He had been off for over a year when he came from a stalking position to win a first-level allowance race going six furlongs May 18 in his first start for trainer Robert MacDonald. Minutesandtouches had no problem moving to the next level, scoring a front-running win over Alisal in a second-level allowance sprint June 6. He had a big excuse in the six-furlong Journal, getting stopped while making a strong move along the rail on the backstretch.

He will be going around three turns for the first time but he won a one-mile $30,000 maiden race at Santa Anita last year, so the added distance shouldn’t be a problem.

Rico Walcott will likely put him right on the lead leaving from post 5.

Alisail couldn’t catch Minutesandtouches on June 6, but he could be sitting on a big race for trainer Rod Cone. He came back to score an easy win in a second-level allowance race going 6 1/2 furlongs June 20 and will appreciate the move to a middle distance. He won a $30,000 maiden claiming race going a mile on the turf at Gulfstream and his only other win came going 1 1/16 miles in a first-level allowance race over Polytrack at Woodbine last year. In his first start in Western Canada he rallied to finish second in the 1 1/8-mile Gold Cup at Assiniboa Downs last September.

Freedoms Traveller is looking to rebound following a dull effort in his seasonal debut in a $40,000 optional claiming sprint June 23. Trained by Lianne Knechtel, Freedoms Traveller won the Grade 3 Canadian Derby in his final start of 2011. He was turned out for the year when Knechtel discovered an undisplaced fracture in his left front ankle a few days after the Canadian Derby.

Saturday’s co-feature is a 6 1/2-furlong $40,000 optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and up that drew a strong field, including 2007 Canadian Derby winner Footprint.