05/15/2013 11:42AM

Northlands Park: Plethora, Claresmiezie have plenty of speed in Friday sprint

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Claresmiezie (above) could battle Plethora for the early lead in the feature Friday at Northlands Park.

How they leave the starting gate in Saturday’s feature race at Northlands Park will go a long way in determining the outcome of the six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Claresmiezie and Plethora have excellent speed, and if they hook up early in the $35,000 optional claimer it could set up nicely for Tempered Sapphire. If one gets away on her own, she could be tough to run down.

Trainer Craig Smith thinks Plethora is going to be hard to rate, especially with the blinkers going on for the first time. She is making her first start since she finished third behind Tempered Sapphire in the one-mile $50,000 Northlands Park Oaks on Aug. 3.

“She’s been working like a monster and really couldn’t be doing any better,” Smith said. “But she’s fresh and very eager, so I think she is going to be hard to contain. It could be trouble if she gets into a duel with Claresmiezie.”

Smith was hoping to gear Plethora down when she worked last Friday, but she dragged jockey Tony Maragh through four furlongs in a swift 46.60 seconds.

Maragh retains the mount.

Claresmiezie, trained by Greg Tracy, is coming off a solid effort in a $40,000 optional claimer at Hastings on April 13, when she showed a different side by stalking a moderate pace. She took a short lead into the stretch and held on well to finish second by a neck behind Castinette Dancer.

Claresmiezie’s only loss in three starts at Northlands came at the hands of Plethora in the $50,000 Red K. Smith Handicap. It was her first attempt at a middle distance, and she used the race as a springboard for her easy 7 3/4-length win in the one-mile $50,000 Assiniboia Downs Oaks.

Leading rider Rico Walcott will have to make a quick decision on whether he wants to let Claresmiezie go early or try and stalk Plethora.

Tempered Sapphire won her first two starts in 2012, including the Northlands Park Oaks, and has been training forwardly for trainer Rod Cone. She didn’t fire in her next two races, but she closed her sophomore campaign with a fast-closing second behind Racing for Gold in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes at Hastings.

Fleet Mama didn’t win last year, but she runs well fresh and could pick up the pieces if they get carried away up front.

Portofappeal is coming off a third-place finish in a $75,000 optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs at Tampa Bay on April 12.

River City Cat and Lynwood complete the field.