09/05/2012 2:14PM

Northlands: Vital Sign and Royal Grand enjoy bit of class relief on Friday


Vital Sign and Royal Grand will appreciate the easier company they will be facing when they run in a second-level allowance race for 3-year-olds and up at Northlands Park on Friday. The six-furlong sprint drew six horses and goes as race 7 on an eight-race card that begins at 6 p.m. Mountain.

Vital Sign won his second start as a 3-year-old at Woodbine on Aug. 11, 2010, but he didn’t make it back to the races until June 15 when he looked good winning a first-level allowance sprint at Northlands for trainer Cody Anderson. He may have bounced a bit when he finished fourth in a $40,000 optional claiming race won by Ready Race on July 28.

Vital Sign also was facing a tough group of horses, with Ready Racer and Hollywood Dreams coming back to win their next start. Ready Racer won a $40,000 optional claimer Aug. 11 and then romped by more than nine lengths in the Sun Sprint Championship. He earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his easy win in the Sun, which is the highest at the meet and tied for third best since Beyers were introduced at Northlands. Hollywood Dreams won the Three and Four-year-old Sales Stakes over Bond James Bond on Aug. 11.

Scott Williams rides Vital Sign and will likely have the 5-year-old son of Tiznow involved right from the start.

Royal Grand won a one-mile, first-level allowance race July 13 and then ran into Commander in the Don Fleming and Westerner in his next two starts. Commander is the top handicap horse in Alberta and would seem to be a lock to be voted the province’s horse of the year off his four impressive stakes wins at the meet.

Royal Grand, trained by Twylia Bensmiller, probably wants more distance, but there should be an honest pace to set up his good late move, and he may be able to get up in time. His other win was in a one-turn mile at Churchill Down in a $10,000 maiden-claiming race in his second start last year.

Gabe’s Pride just missed in a $40,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds Aug. 11 and could be dangerous if he can avoid a duel with Vital Sign.

Rocket Train is stepping up in class after winning a $15,000 claiming race for nonwinners of two.

Short Memo will try and redeem himself after a dull effort as the favorite in a similar race Aug. 17.

Six Pack has speed and drew the rail.