08/24/2005 11:00PM

Out From Africa, Alabama Rain invade for derby

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Out From Africa, who invades Northlands Park from Ontario, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 76th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby at 1 3/8 miles.

Out From Africa, a British Columbia-bred trained by John Ross, will have post 5 in a field of 11, which also includes an invader from Vancouver, Alabama Rain. Trained by Lance Giesbrecht for owner Peter Redekop, Alabama Rain also is a British Columbia-bred. He was installed as the 5-2 second favorite and will break from post 4.

Named to ride Out From Africa is Jake Barton, who is based at Hastings, while Alabama Rain will have his regular rider, Pedro Alvarado, in the irons.

Out From Africa is coming off a third-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile Woodbine allowance. Before that he finished fourth, beaten only a length, in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

Alabama Rain has won his last two starts, the 6 1/2-furlong Jim Coleman Province Cup and the 1 1/16-mile British Columbia Cup Stallion. Alabama Rain has been at Northlands for more than two weeks and Giesbrecht reports that "he has been well settled in, he is sound, and has been working well."

Wild Bender, owned by Barb Saunders and trained by her husband, Dale, will be looking to become the fourth filly in six years to win the Canadian Derby, following in the hoofprints of Native Brass, Lady Shari, and Raylene. Wild Bender, whose owner had the first choice of post position under the two-tiered draw process, will begin from post 6 with Rickey Walcott up. She won the $100,000 Alberta Centennial, at 1 1/16 miles, in her most recent outing.

Forever Rascal, trained by Kelly Robinson and ridden by Real Simard, won the last Canadian Derby prep, the 1 1/16-mile Count Lathum, and is shooting for Lomar Stable's third Canadian Derby win. Chariot Chaser won for Lomar 40 years ago and Scotman in 2000.

Courtney Bay, owned by Oxbridge Farm, was beaten a neck as the runner-up in the Count Lathum. Trainer Lianne Knechtel named Ron Blinston as the pilot.

The Greg Tracy-trained Dakota Duke, with Quincy Welch up, was a close third in the Count Lathum and won the one-mile Hoofprint on My Heart at Calgary this spring.

Completing the field are Knight's Covenant, winner of Stampede Park's 1 1/16-mile Alberta Derby, and Bear Picasso, Blue Comin Thru, Cinderchance, and Ding Dong Dandy.

All entrants will carry 126 pounds with the exception of the filly Wild Bender, who gets in with 121 pounds.