08/20/2003 12:00AM

Rindanica shouldn't be overlooked


EDMONTON, Alberta - Part of the intrigue surrounding the Canadian Derby each year is the matchup between horses who have been running in Alberta all year and invaders from the east, the west, and south of the border.

That will be the case again this year, with a number of local horses - including Taiaslew, Beau Brass, Raylene, and Rindanica - among the field of eight for Saturday's 74th edition of the Canadian Derby.

Much of the talk in 2003 has been about Taiaslew, who has never lost a race in Alberta, but another interesting entrant this year is Rindanica, who is trained by Riley Rycroft and owned by local entrepreneur Rick Robertson.

Rindanica won two of the three prep races leading up to the Canadian Derby and finished a strong second to Beau Brass in the final prep, the Count Lathum on Aug. 2.

The biggest question surrounding the Canadian Derby is the grueling distance of 1 3/8 miles. But according to Rycroft, that has never been a concern for Rindanica, a Kentucky-bred who has won $82,211 this year.

"Just with his pedigree alone we were never worried about the distance," said Rycroft. "Last time out, that other horse [Beau Brass] got away from us a little, but that won't happen this time. We'll have [Rindanica] just off the pace and give him a chance to finish down the lane."

This is the second time Rycroft has trained a Canadian Derby entrant, the first coming in 1998 when Regal Plan ran third to A Fleets Dancer. It's made for an exciting three months leading up to the big day, and his excitement was readily apparent.