05/03/2012 10:08AM

Northlands: Western Woods has benefit of a recent race


With a solid race behind him at Hastings on April 14, Western Woods will be hard to handle when he runs in a $30,000 claiming race at Northlands Park on Saturday. The 3 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew seven horses and goes as race eight on a 9-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Mountain.

Western Woods, trained by Greg Tracy, is the only horse in the field with a race this year and he is coming off a fourth-place finish in a $25,000 claiming race at Hastings that included stakes winners Bonboni and Dyna Stroll. Bonboni was moved up to first when the stewards disqualified Pop Artist for causing interference. Dyna Stroll finished third.

Sunday’s race looks like a much easier spot for Western Woods, whose lone win in 2011 came in a $30,000 claiming race at Northlands. He has an excellent record at the distance with two wins and a second from four starts, and if he can break alertly he could be gone with Rico Walcott riding.

Sense of Humor will be making his first start at Northlands for trainer Ernie Keller and he could be dangerous in his first try in an abbreviated sprint. He is very fast. Since 2010 he has held the lead at the first call in 11 straight races, all at Hastings. He won a couple of $25,000 claiming races going 6 1/2 furlongs last year racing for trainer Mel Snow. He finished last in his final start of 2011 and was claimed for $25,000 by Deltin Stable.

Commanding Ace also has good speed but he will need to break sharply from his inside post position. His trainer, Kelly Grieves, is very good with horses coming off long layoffs. The past five years Grieves has a 27 percent strike rate with horses coming off a break of 180 days or more. Commanding Ace hasn’t raced since September 2011.

Lightly-raced Yippy Kia Yea has won two his three starts but might want more distance.

Points Alert runs well fresh and may have tipped his hand with a bullet three-furlong work in 35.40 seconds April 18.

Bearcatt will try dirt for the first time. In 14 starts over the Polytrack at Woodbine Bearcatt compiled a solid 5-4-0 record. He also ran well on grass with a second and a third from two starts.

Storm’s Battle rounds out the field.