05/17/2008 12:00AM

Recent race gives edge to Tanika


CALGARY, Alberta - Monday's $50,000 Ken Pearson Memorial took on a new look when Beth's Best Bet, the front-running winner of the six-furlong M.R. Jenkins Memorial here April 27, was not entered in the one-mile handicap.

She's Italian, champion mare in the province last year, and Tanika, champion 3-year-old filly of 2007, now will attract most of the attention in the field of eight fillies and mares.

Tanika has an edge on She's Italian, who comes into the Pearson off works alone. Tanika closed very strongly in the late stages of the Jenkins to fall a length shy of catching Beth's Best Bet.

Tanika was clearly going the best at the wire that day and has two strong works back for trainer Barry Brown.

Stephan Heiler retains the mount on Tanika, who drew the outside post.

She's Italian, bred in Alberta by her owner, Max Gibb, has turned in very gritty performances of her own over the past two campaigns.

Her trainer, Doug MacDonald, said She's Italian won the Fall Classic Distaff last September on "pure heart."

MacDonald started slowly with She's Italian here this spring, missing a prep and then working her five furlongs around the dogs on May 9 before coming back with a six-furlong move of 1:11.80 last Wednesday.

She's Italian breaks from post 4 with regular rider Jake Barton up. She is the 123-pound highweight, conceding three pounds to Tanika.

Looming as the possible upsetter from post 3 is Banjo Babe, with leading rider Quincy Welch aboard.

Banjo Babe has trained forwardly for Don Gilkyson following a second-place effort in the six-furlong Sales Sales here April 12.