08/31/2013 2:14PM

Northlands Park: Toccetive on the rise for Speed to Spare

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Senor Rojo is a deserving favorite in Monday’s $100,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands Park, but Toccetive, undefeated in two starts at the grueling 1 3/8-mile distance, appears to be coming around for trainer Dale Greenwood and could be primed to pull off a mild upset. The premier race for 3-year-olds and up at Northlands drew eight horses and headlines a 10-race card.

Toccetive hasn’t won since he became the first horse to win the Grade 3 Canadian Derby and Speed to Spare in the same year in 2012. Nonetheless, he is coming off an improved effort in the $50,000 Westerner, and there isn’t any doubt he will appreciate the extra distance.

Last year, he was trained by Joan Petrowski. He was transferred to Greenwood’s care last winter, and, according to Greenwood, Toccetive was injured when he was shipping to Turf Paradise.

“We’re not sure what happened, but he had a bit of a wreck in the van,” Greenwood said. “It set him back, and we’ve taken our time with him. He is doing great now and he is certainly coming around at the right time.”

Toccetive rallied to finish third behind Commander and Senor Rojo in the Westerner and with plenty of speed signed on in the Speed to Spare, he should be heard from late with Fernando Perez riding him for the first time.

Senor Rojo is clearly the horse to beat. He won the Grade 3 Premiers at Hastings going 1 3/8 miles in 2010 and the Speed to Spare in 2011. He likes to have something to run at, but he found himself on the lead in last year’s Speed to Spare. Despite setting slow fractions, he tired in the stretch to finish third. There should be plenty of speed for him to run down in this year’s renewal, and he appears to be coming up to the race in peak condition following his sharp second behind Commander on Aug. 17.

Rico Walcott retains the mount.

An honest pace is guaranteed with Tommy Danzigger in the field. He may have lost a step since he scored a front-running win in the Canadian Derby for trainer Rob Gilker in 2009, but he is coming off a sharp win going 1 3/8 miles in an $8,000 starter handicap race restricted to British Columbia-breds at Hastings on Aug. 5.

Hastings invaders Liberty Cap and Mysterious Soul also figure to be prominent early.

Liberty Cap, trained by Dennis Terry, is coming off two straight allowance wins going 1 1/16 miles at Hastings, where he forced quick paces in both races.

First post Monday is 1 p.m. Mountain.