05/27/2013 1:23PM

Northlands Park: On the Key, pointed for Canadian Derby, making local debut


On the Key begins what his connections hope is a march to the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby on Aug. 17 when he makes his Northlands Park debut in a first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds Wednesday. The six-furlong sprint drew 10 horses, and if On the Key can stay within striking distance of the early leaders he should be able to mow them down in the stretch.

Post time for the first mid-week card of the year is 6 p.m. Mountain.

Despite getting off to a poor start, going six wide while making a strong move on the stretch turn, and then getting bumped at the eighth pole, On the Key was good enough to win a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Keeneland April 19. The seven-furlong sprint was a key race, with three horses coming back to win their next start.

Trainer Tim Rycroft isn’t sure On the Key will be able to get up in time going six furlongs, but he likes the way he has trained since he arrived in his barn few weeks ago and he was particularly pleased with his bullet five-furlong move in 1:00.80 May 22 with Quincy Welch aboard. Rycroft also said owners Curtis and Darrell Landry had the Canadian Derby in mind when they claimed the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding from trainer Todd Pletcher for $25,000 when he debuted at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 10.

“He’s still a bit green and acts a bit studdish,” said Rycroft. “His first work here wasn’t much, but when we worked him in company with Quincy on him he was pretty impressive. This should be a good test for him.”

Just Gone figures to move forward in his second start at the meet. Trained by Rod Cone, Just Gone won his debut last year and then finished second in three straight stakes races. He was no match for runaway winner Tigger Town in his first start this year, but has worked well since and could be dangerous if he breaks alertly from his inside post with apprentice Amie Pooli riding at 112 pounds.

Toccetive best in province

Toccetive was named champion 3-year-old and the 2012 Alberta Horse of the Year at the Night of Champions, held at the Matrix Hotel in Edmonton on Saturday.

Trained by Joan Petrowski and owned by Southview Ag 1998, Toccetive won the Canadian Derby and beat older horses in the $100,000 Speed to Spare.

Commander dominated the older handicap division for trainer Dennis Terry and was an easy choice as the top older horse.

Other horses honored: Heidi Maria, older filly or mare; Madeira Park, 3-year-old filly; Hollywood Drama, 2-year-old male; Tell Me Lies, 2-year-old filly; Ready Racer, sprinter; Shanghai Charlie, claimer.

Trainer Dale Saunders received the Ken Cohoe Trophy for the Horse Person of the Year.