09/27/2012 1:55PM

Northlands: Senor Rojo poised to win Speed to Spare for second year in a row

Ryan Haynes
Senor Rojo is looking to replicate his 2011 Speed to Spare Stakes win.

Senor Rojo will try and defend his title in the $100,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands Park on Saturday. The 1 3 /8-mile feature for 3-year-olds and up drew six horses, including Grade 3 Canadian Derby winner Toccetive, who has been installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite.

Senor Rojo looks like the one to beat, though. Senor Rojo is 2 for 3 going 1 3/8 miles, and his other win came in the Grade 3 Premiers at Hastings in 2010. The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred is looking for his first win of the season, but he was chasing Grade 3 Longacres Mile winner Taylor Said in his last three starts at Hastings, and according to trainer Dave Forster he had an excuse when he finished fourth behind Commander in the Westerner at Northlands on Aug. 25.

“He got stepped on from behind,” Forster said. “He’s doing fine right now, so he should run a good race. Hopefully, it will be good enough.”

Richard Hamel retains the mount.

Trainer Joan Petrowski was not in a great mood Thursday morning when she found out she needed a rider for Toccetive. Jorge Carreno was aboard Toccetive when he won the Grade 3 Canadian Derby going 1 3/8 miles Aug. 25, but he has shifted his tack to Southern California. Scott Williams was named to ride Toccetive when entries were taken, but he came down with a lung infection and won’t be riding this weekend.

“I just don’t know right now who is going to ride him,” Petrowski said. “I have to find one that fits him and I’m not sure who it is.”

Ready Racer earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the $50,000 Sun Sprint Championship with Fernando Perez aboard Sept. 1, and only Timely Ruckus has earned a higher Beyer at Northlands. Ready Racer has never won a race longer than 6 1/2 furlongs, however, and trainer Dale Saunders wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence when he was asked if Ready Racer could go 1 3/8 miles.

“I doubt it,” Saunders said.

Saunders wasn’t without hope, though.

“I assume he will be in front, and if Fernando can get him to settle, he might be able to carry his speed the whole way,” Saunders said.

Saunders also entered Wild Crush, who is coming off a win in the Alberta Breeders on Sept. 15.

Double Kisses will need to improve off his win in the $25,000 Saskatchewan Derby on Sept. 8.

Real Dingo attracts leading rider Rico Walcott following his third-place finish in the Westerner.