05/09/2013 12:50PM

Northlands Park: Mark of a Warrior, The God of Reign have fitness edge in Saturday claimer


Racing fit Mark of a Warrior and The God of Reign should have a fitness edge over their four rivals in a six-furlong, $17,500 claiming race that will serve as Saturday’s feature at Northlands Park.

It was another long and cold winter that crept into spring in Alberta this year. When entries were taken for the first day of the meet it was –5 degrees Celsius and snowing – not the kind of weather that is optimal for trainers trying to have their horses ready to run in early May. Mark of a Warrior and The God of Reign had been racing at Turf Paradise and Sunland Park and are clearly the ones to beat.

Trained by Robertino Diodoro, Mark of a Warrior has been the more productive of the two. Acting on behalf of Wes Hanson, Diodoro claimed Mark of a Warrior back for $8,000 at Santa Anita on Jan. 13. In his first start after the claim, he won for the same price at Turf Paradise on Feb. 18. In his next two races, he rallied to finish third in a $12,500 claiming race going six furlongs March 15 and second for the same price going 5 1/2 furlongs April 20.

Mark of a Warrior ran three times at Northlands last year, and his best race was a win in a $22,000 claiming race May 12. Similar to this year, Diodoro had claimed him back for $10,000 at Santa Anita and then won a couple of races at Turf Paradise before bringing him north.

Nate Smith rides Mark of a Warrior.

Trained by Greg Tracy, The God of Reign will be making his first start at Northlands, but not in Canada. He set the pace before tiring to finish third in a $50,000 optional claimer at Hastings last May and then didn’t run again until Jan. 13, when he chased an honest pace before tiring in a $25,000 optional claimer for New Mexico-breds at Sunland Park. He is moving back to a sprint after setting the pace before fading to last in his first route attempt in a $30,000 claiming race going a mile and 70 yards.

Shifty Sheriff looks like the main speed in the field and could be tough to catch if he can clear early.

Indian Love compiled a solid 3-4-3 record from 10 starts at the 2012 Northlands meet but will look better when he stretches out to a middle distance.

Against the Tide and Constable Sheppard complete the field.