08/15/2013 2:12PM

Northlands Park: Broadway Empire must relax in Canadian Derby

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Ryan Haynes/Coady Photo Services
Broadway Empire, winner of the Ky Alta Stakes, will start in post 11 for the Canadian Derby.

EDMONTON, Alberta – Trainer Robertino Diodoro is the epitome of calm heading into Saturday’s 84th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, where he will saddle the likely favorite, Broadway Empire, in the richest race in Western Canada.

Diodoro is hoping some of his relaxed attitude will rub off on Broadway Empire, who has more than one hurdle to overcome if he is going to be able to carry his substantial speed around four turns in the 1 3/8-mile derby, which drew 12 horses.

Broadway Empire also is facing what appears to be the strongest field seen in the Canadian Derby in years. Post time for the 12th of 13 races is 5:45 p.m. Mountain.

He drew post 11, where jockey Rico Walcott will have to be on his toes to avoid a wide trip, particularly heading into the first turn. Walcott hasn’t ridden since he injured a shoulder when he went down in a spill Aug. 9. He was scheduled to ride Wednesday, but booked off his mounts.

The biggest challenge facing the son of Empire Maker is his demeanor, however. He was very rank chasing a fast pace going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 Affirmed at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 2, but Walcott did get Broadway Empire to settle a bit more when he guided him to a 7 1/4-length romp in the one-mile Ky Alta at Northlands on July 6. Diodoro is well aware what it will take for Broadway Empire to win at the grueling distance.

“He’s bred and trains like a horse that will go a mile and three-eighths,” Diodoro said. “The word of the week is relax. If he relaxes – and we’ll know that by the time they hit the backstretch – yes, he will go the distance.”

Diodoro also is hoping for a big effort from Smart Promotion, who is undefeated in three starts and is coming off a front-running win in the $52,000 Count Lathum at Northlands on July 27.

“He loves to run hooked and he will be in front early,” Diodoro said.

Canadian Derby contenders Reporting Star and Title Contender arrived from Toronto in good shape Wednesday morning.

Reporting Star, trained by Craig MacPherson, is still eligible for a first-level allowance race, but he’s has been running mostly in stakes races and his second to Verrazano in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth on June 16 was flattered when Verrazano came back to romp in the Grade 1 Haskell. Reporting Star was trained by Kathleen O’Connell until he was sold to Chad Joe following his second on turf in the $63,000 Jersey Derby on July 20.

“I’m really just saddling the horse,” MacPherson said. “Kathleen knows the race is a mile and three-eighths, and I just asked her to train him the way she would normally train a horse going that far.”

Title Contender is coming off a win in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby for trainer Wayne Catalano. He was recently purchased by Peter Redekop and will be saddled by trainer Anita Bolton. Danny Williams, an assistant to Bolton, said Title Contender trained well over the track Thursday morning.

Title Contender has tactical speed, and jockey Enrique Gonzalez will need to use some of it leaving from post 12.

Trainer Dino Condilenios doesn’t think Shooting Jacket is the most talented horse in the field, but firmly believes the son of Hard Spun will thrive at the marathon distance. He is coming off a win in the $50,000 Chris Loseth on July 1.

Trainer Dale Greenwood is expecting a big performance from For Cash, who is a half-brother to last year’s Canadian Derby winner, Toccetive.

Skimmer Jim, second in a one-mile first-level allowance race July 29, has started just twice, but he ran well both times and is bred for the distance.

“He can settle, so we’ll just let some of the monsters go early and try and make one late run,” trainer Twylla Bensmiller said. “It’s very exciting to be part of a great race.”