06/06/2005 12:00AM

The real 'Willy' struts his stuff


CALGARY, Alberta - Blackjack Willy ($4.50) redeemed himself Friday night at Stampede Park following his disappointing effort in the Hoofprint on My Heart, winning a one-mile allowance race by nine lengths.

Trainer Rick Hedge added a tongue-tie, changed bits, and hoped for the best after watching Blackjack Willy run greenly in the $50,000 Hoofprint just six days earlier. The result was a complete turnaround for Blackjack Willy, who handled the turns in professional fashion under Perry Winters to defeat four rivals.

Hedge called owner Tom White immediately after the race, contested over a sloppy course, and later confirmed that Blackjack Willy will be among the nominees to the $125,000 Alberta Derby on June 18.

Dakota Duke, a runaway winner of the Hoofprint on My Heart, remains the local favorite and is sure to be joined by several shippers.

* A downpour early in the Sunday program caused riders and management to huddle on two occasions to discuss canceling the remainder of the card. The program continued without incident but the track was closed to training on Monday and the forecast of continuing rain ensured that muddy conditions would exist for Wednesday's program.

Fleet Christina, proven at the distance and in the off going, heads a field of seven older fillies and mares going a mile in Wednesday's featured seventh race.