08/15/2011 3:25PM

Northlands Park: Keowee Clai dangerous at light weight


Putting an apprentice who rides at a light weight on a horse with speed is an age-old strategy in Thoroughbred racing. It worked perfectly for trainer Greg Tracy when he gave Amie Pooli the mount on Mariacomo last Saturday at Northlands Park. Packing a feathery 107 pounds, Mariacomo went to the lead under Pooli and never looked back while winning her first race at a major track.

Trainer Jim Meyaard is hoping for a similar result when he gives Pooli a leg up on Keowee Clai in a $20,000 claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs that will serve as Wednesday’s feature at Northlands.

Keowee Clai is fast and she used her good speed to score back-to-back front-running wins in her first two starts at the meet. Meyaard claimed Keowee Clai for $12,500 out of a win at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 27. She won her third in a row in a $15,000 claiming race in her first start at Northlands on May 28 and came right back to score again for $20,000 going 6 1/2 furlongs June 12. She couldn’t make the lead when she returned almost two months later in a $20,000 claiming race Aug. 5, but she held on well to finish third. She figures to move forward with a race under her belt, and if she can make the lead with Pooli riding at 107 pounds she could be gone.

There is plenty of other potential speed in the field, and if an all-out battle for the lead develops Miss Oops could be the winner. Trained by Robertino Diodoro, Miss Oops dueled for the lead and won for $15,000 on July 30, but she can stalk, and Rico Walcott figures to have her sitting just off of what could be a hotly contested pace.

Big field likely for Canadian Derby

It looks like at least 11 and possibly a full field of 12 horses will start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby on Saturday.

Trainer Craig MacPherson confirmed that Tommy D’Horsey would run in the richest race in western Canada. Tommy D’Horsey has only run three times but he was impressive winning a maiden special weight race in his first start at Northlands July 30 and MacPherson said he thinks he will handle the grueling 1 3/8-mile distance. MacPherson was on the fence about running him but changed his mind after Tommy D’Horsey worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 at Northlands on Saturday.

Trainer Greg Tracy confirmed that the Kentucky-bred filly Lemon Loaf is going to run. Lemon Loaf is coming off a win in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race at Northlands on July 1.

“She is by Lemon Drop Kid and should run all day,” said Tracy.