08/20/2008 11:00PM

Round 2 for Tanika and Holy Nova


EDMONTON, Alberta - Holy Nova and Tanika renew their rivalry and face just three other opponents in the 38th running of the $100,000 City of Edmonton Distaff here at Northlands Park on Saturday's Canadian Derby program. The pair are co-highweights at 125 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile handicap for fillies and mares.

Holy Nova finished 3 1/2 lengths in front of Tanika in the one-mile John Patrick here on July 13. She then returned to Hastings, where she ran fifth against male rivals in the 6 1/2-furlong British Columbia Cup Sprint after she was compromised by a poor start.

Tanika stayed home and captured the 1 1/16-mile Madamoiselle on Aug. 10 against just three rivals.

This rematch has been eagerly awaited, as Holy Nova and Tanika are arguably the best of their divisions in their respective provinces.

But Alpine Garden, who signaled her return to form by defeating the good mare Lady Raj in the B.C. Cup Distaff, gets in light here at 118 pounds with red-hot rider Quincy Welch aboard and could spoil the party.

Alpine Garden drew the rail, and Welch will likely use her speed to sit just off the probable pacesetter Littlemiss Allison, who has been off since a disappointing effort in the one-mile Lilac at Stampede Park on May 25.

Mario Gutierrez is reunited with Holy Nova and has been aboard for her past six victories, including the John Patrick, where she was three wide for much of the race and still won in convincing fashion.

Holy Nova drew post 3, and Gutierrez will likely employ the midpack running style that has produced her best races.

Stephan Heiler breaks Tanika from the outside post and will likely reserve the dark bay filly in the early stages in order to avoid being hung wide in the run to the first turn.

Fox on a Ridge was just a neck back of Tanika last out in a strong effort but is the longshot here.