08/29/2006 11:00PM

Ozzie's J J up in class once again


EDMONTON, Alberta - At the conclusion of Monday's Labor Day holiday card, racing secretary Fred Hilts will have produced 10 programs in 13 calendar days, so the horse population here at Northlands Park is understandably stretched thin.

Hilts was searching for a feature for Friday when he hung up an extra, a $40,000 optional claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs, and got his wish when six older geldings were attracted by the $20,200 purse.

Ozzie's J J seeks his third win in his last four outings while moving up the claiming ladder once again for trainer Sid Gray.

A good 3-year-old in 2004 who suffered through a winless campaign last year, Ozzie's J J gets a favorable pace scenario to set up his late kick.

Golden Hunt, winner of the Western Canada last October at Friday's distance and one of the quickest away from the gate on this circuit, drew the rail, with arch-rival Hot Talk just to his outside.

Golden Hunt and Hot Talk dueled each other into submission in the Sun Sprint Championship on Aug. 7 and can be expected to provide lively early fractions.

Ozzie's J J, whose last two wins at this distance were sandwiched around a fourth-place effort at a mile, has regular rider Shannon Beauregard aboard and looks capable of handling the rise in class.

In his most recent win, over $30,000 company, Ozzie's J J circled his field turning for home and was visually impressive, drawing off to a four-length victory in 1:18.00.