05/29/2013 2:05PM

Northlands Park: Salsa Express aims for first win of year

Coady Photography
Salsa Express (No. 8) was the runner-up in both of her starts this year but likely will be favored in Friday's feature at Northlands Park.

The classy 8-year-old mare Salsa Express figures to be a strong favorite when she runs in a $25,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares that serves as Friday’s feature at Northlands Park. The six-furlong sprint drew 10 horses, and with her good tactical speed, Salsa Express should get a ground-saving trip after breaking from post 1.

It is hard not to like a horse such as Salsa Express, who has been a gem of consistency since she began her career with a second-place finish in a maiden special weight race at Boise in 2008.

Bred in Idaho, Salsa Express has compiled an enviable record of 16-13-10 from 45 starts, and she won stakes at Boise and Turf Paradise before arriving at Northlands in 2010. She has been trained by Ernie Keller since he claimed her for $15,000 in her last start of 2010.

Last year, Salsa Express won three races and finished worse than third just once in 11 starts. She started the current meet by finishing second in back-to-back $25,000 optional claimers going six furlongs.

In her most recent race May 18, Salsa Express broke from post 10 and had her chances of winning compromised when she went five wide around the first turn. Considering she only lost by a half-length to Two Horn Unicorn, she figures to be tough to handle with a better trip.

Tony Maragh retains the mount.

It is hard to come up with a horse to fill in the exacta, but Regal Tigereyes might be worth a stab at what should be a decent price. She runs well fresh, and since 2011, her trainer, Kirsty Luft-Nault, has won with 20 percent of her starters returning from a layoff of 180 days or more. Last year, Regal Tigereyes won the $49,000 3- and 4-year-old Filly Sales Stakes.

Also on the eight-race card that begins at 6 p.m. Mountain is a $30,000 optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies who have not won $20,000 this year. The six-furlong sprint goes as the second race and attracted Tell Me Lies, who was voted the champion 2-year-old filly in Alberta in 2012.

In her first start this year, Tell Me Lies forced the pace before tiring to finish sixth in a $40,000 optional claimer at Hastings on April 20.

She has worked well for trainer Greg Tracy since she arrived at Northlands in early May, and with a race behind her, she appears to be ready for a strong effort with Quincy Welch riding her for the first time.