09/01/2011 11:42AM

Northlands Park: Salt Flat Speed has much going for him in Sun Sprint


Despite losing to Midtown Bullet in an optional $40,000 claiming race Aug. 20, Salt Flat Speed is clearly the one to beat in the $50,000 Sun Sprint Championship at Northlands Park on Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew six horses and most of the arrows point to Salt Flat Speed as the winner.

Salt Flat Speed, trained by Jim Meyaard, may not be having the same kind of year that saw him win five races and earn more than $107,000 last year, but he is still earning more than his keep. He looked like he was on his way to another banner season when he won his first two starts this year, including the $50,000 Journal on June 11. He finished second to Footprint when he stretched out to a mile in the Spangled Jimmy on July 2, however, and he scratched a couple of times before his second-place finish behind Midtown Bullet. With a race under his belt, Salt Flat Speed figures to take a big step forward, plus he drew the outside post, where jockey Rico Walcott can either put him right on the lead or sit just off Reggie Dunlop.

Midtown Bullet is a relative fresh horse with just three starts this year and is eligible to improve for trainer Twylla Bensmiller. He stalked Salt Flat Speed and Tiny Giant before taking over the lead on the stretch turn in his latest win and could get a similar trip if a duel develops between Reggie Dunlop and the likely favorite. Midtown Bullet is looking for his first stakes win, however, and he will probably need a career-best performance to beat a very tough field that includes the 2010 Sun Sprint winner, Mr. Shadar.

Mr. Shadar isn’t coming into the race with the same kind of form he had last year when he won five races, including three stakes in a row, beginning with the Sun. Trained by Rick Hedge, Mr. Shadar wasn’t much of a threat while finishing fourth behind Midtown Bullet and Salt Flat Speed in his latest but he came back with a sharp half-mile move Aug. 30 and could be rounding into form.

Against the Tide won his seasonal debut in a $30,000 claiming race but might be a little dull after finishing third going 1 3/8 miles in the $75,000 Speed to Spare on Aug. 20.

Reggie Dunlop has speed and drew the rail, but needs to show he can compete at this level.

Diamond Doc rounds out the field.