09/03/2003 11:00PM

R.J. Speers distance works for Sixthirty Joe


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Alberta shipper Sixthirty Joe and local Wheat City Stakes winner Deputy Country head a solid field in the $35,000 R.J. Speers on Saturday, but Northern Affair could upset them all if he runs back to his last race.

Sixthirty Joe ships in for the 1 1/16-mile Speers off a victory in the six-furlong Sun Sprint Championship Handicap at Northlands Park on Aug. 4, and while his best distance seems to be a sprint, he has run decently in route stakes in Alberta.

Owned by Seivad Farms and his trainer, Deanne Davies, Sixthirty Joe finished second, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by former local star Kalfaari, two starts ago in the one-mile Spangled Jimmy Handicap, also at Northlands Park. He can run from on or off the pace and gets the services of Alberta rider Real Simard.

Deputy Country, a 5-year-old owned by Arnold Heppner and trained by Carl Anderson, has finally come into his own after some patient work by Anderson. A six-figure yearling, he became a stakes winner in his last start, the one-mile Wheat City Aug. 4, and should be ready to run another big race.

Deputy Country also likes to run on or close to the pace. Ken Hendricks gets the call.

Northern Affair, trained by Keith Corbel, faces older horses for the first time after a romping win in the 1 1/8-mile Harry Jeffrey Stakes here Aug. 24. Loaded with raw talent, Northern Affair is another who will be close to the pace, and his trip could determine the outcome of this race. Mike Iammarino retains the mount.

Rounding out the field are Adversary, Brass Ruhler, Sir Pucker, Nugrayontheblock, Beau Ring, John Crainer, and Coldstream.

A longshot possibility is Brass Ruhler, who has improved dramatically for owner-trainer Gary Danelson, winning two in a row on the class raise since being claimed by Danelson. He could surprise in the exotics.