05/12/2011 1:14PM

Northlands Park: Western Woods brings speed to claiming sprint

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Western Woods is going to take some catching when he runs in Saturday’s seventh race at Northlands Park. The 3 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up running for a $22,000 claiming tag attracted seven horses, including stakes winners Robo Willie and Zuri Mwana.

Robo Willie and Zuri Mwana might have a class edge, but Western Woods has the best speed, and if he breaks on top, he will be very difficult to catch. In his first start this year for trainer Greg Tracy, he set torrid fractions of 21.91 seconds and 44.55 before tiring to finish fourth in a $25,000 claiming race going six furlongs at Hastings on April 16. The winner of the race, Pop, came right back to win for the same price. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred, Western Woods has carried his excellent speed all the way four times in his career. His most recent win was over Polytrack in a $20,000 claiming race for nonwinners of four races at Arlington Park on Sept. 16. His three other wins all came on dirt at Charles Town and Hoosier Park.

Fernando Perez rides Western Woods for the first time.

Zuri Mwana, trained by Gordon Amthor, should appreciate being back at Northlands, where he has won six races. He is coming off of a fourth-place finish in a $12,500 claiming race at Woodbine on April 3.

Robo Willie runs well fresh and has earned bullets for all four of his works this spring. He appears to be primed for a big effort in his first start of the year for trainer Dale Saunders.

No Hesitation set for honors

No Hesitation figures to be named 2010 Alberta horse of the year at the Night of Champions being held in the Paddock Theatre at Northlands on Saturday night. Trained by Jim Meyaard, No Hesitation won four stakes at Northlands last year, including the Grade 3 Canadian Derby. Meyaard said he was hoping to run No Hesitation in the next couple of weeks.

“Hopefully, an allowance race or $40,000 optional race will fill,” he said. “He’s ready to go.”