08/08/2012 1:23PM

Northlands Park: Salt Flat Speed gets class relief in Friday sprint


After trying to keep up with Commander in the Journal and Spangled Jimmy, Salt Flat Speed is going to appreciate the class relief when he runs in a $30,000 claiming race that will serve as Friday’s feature at Northlands Park. The six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew six horses and goes as the eighth race.

Salt Flat Speed was one of the top handicap horses at Northlands in 2010-11, winning five stakes races, but may have lost a step as a 7-year-old this season. He started his 2012 campaign at Woodbine, where his best finish in two starts was a second in a $40,000 claiming race on grass May 30. In his first start at the current meet for trainer Amber Meyaard, he rallied to finish third behind Commander going six furlongs in the $50,000 Journal on June 23. He used his good speed to set the pace in the one-mile Spangled Jimmy, but, like the rest of the field, he was overwhelmed by Commander in the stretch. Commander came back with one of the most dominating performances seen at Northlands in years when he breezed to a 7 1/4-length, front-running win in the Don Fleming last Monday.

Salt Flat Speed is versatile, and leading apprentice Scott Williams will likely put him in a stalking position behind Robo Willie.

Meyaard also has entered Juan Might, who rallied to finish second in a $15,000 claiming race in his last start July 6. He won five races in 2011, but is looking for his first score this year.

Robo Willie has the best speed in the field, and he used it to win his last two races. He was an easy front-running winner going six furlongs for $15,000 on May 23 and was claimed out of the race by trainer Rick Wise, who was acting on behalf of Kirk Sutherland. In his first start for his new connections, Robo Willie dueled with Montellano for a half-mile before asserting control of the 6 1/2-furlong race.

A multiple stakes winner at 2 and 3, Robo Willie drew the rail, and there isn’t much doubt jockey Stephan Heiler will be putting him right on the lead.

Reggie Dunlop fits better at this level after a fifth-place finish in a $40,000 optional claiming race July 28. He had compiled a 1-1-1 record in three straight $30,000 claiming races prior to his dull effort in his latest race.

Midtown Bullet and Vital Sign round out the field.