08/03/2011 11:27AM

Northlands: Salt Flat Speed in for tag after loss

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Handicappers and prospective buyers have a lot to think about with Salt Flat Speed dropping in for a tag at Northlands Park for the first time since he won a $20,000 claiming race by 4 1/4 lengths on July 31, 2009.

Since then, he has won nine races, including four stakes, and he seemed to be on top of his game when he held off Footprint in the Journal on June 11. Sent off as the main part of a 1-2 favorite entry in his next start, Salt Flat Speed forced the pace but couldn’t keep up with Footprint when he stretched out to a mile in the Spangled Jimmy, a race he easily won last year.

After one disappointing effort, trainer Jim Meyaard has decided to offer Salt Flat Speed for the price in a $40,000 optional claiming race Friday evening. The six-furlong sprint drew seven horses, but if the Salt Flat Speed that reeled off three straight wins in stakes races last year shows up, the rest are running for second money.

Finishing second in a stakes race isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, and while the 73 Beyer Speed Figure that Salt Flat Speed was given is 18 points less than he received in his two previous races, it still ranks as the best last-race figure in the field. Salt Flat Speed is versatile, and with a couple of horses with good speed – Command Ace and Cool Kahuna – breaking inside of him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his regular rider, Rico Walcott, put him into a stalking position. However, if he does break first and is on top of his game, they aren’t going to catch him.

Commanding Ace will be making his first start since he was claimed off Meyaard for $30,000 by trainer Kelly Grieves on July 1. Commanding Ace was coming off of two solid efforts going six furlongs - a win for $30,000 on May  27 and a narrow loss to Western Woods on June 15. He took a 1 1/2-length lead into the stretch in the July 1 race, but couldn’t fend off Cool Kahuna.

Trained by James McCullough, Cool Kahuna ran an interesting race. He had the lead early, dropped back to third, and then rallied in the stretch. In his previous start, he finished last in the Journal.

Diamond Doc won’t mind the move back to a sprint after setting the pace before tiring in the 1 1/16-mile Don Fleming on July 22.