07/22/2010 1:06PM

Salt Flat Speed tests win streak at Northlands


Salt Flat Speed will be the one to catch when he goes for his fifth win in a row Saturday in the $50,000 Don Fleming Handicap at Northlands Park. Salt Flat Speed will likely be favored, but he could be vulnerable in the 1 1/16-mile feature that drew seven older horses and goes as race 7.

Earlier this year trainer, Jim Meyaard was correct in his assessment when he said that he thought Salt Flat Speed was a better horse than he was in 2009, when he compiled a solid record of 5-3-1 from 10 starts. Salt Flat Speed hasn’t been threatened in any of his three starts at Northlands this year, and he led every step of the way in his 2 1/2-length win over Shem in the Spangled Jimmy on July 3. Salt Flat Speed will be paying for his success by being asked to carry 124 pounds while going a distance he lost at in his only try.

Anthony Salgado was aboard for Salt Flat Speed’s win in the Spangled Jimmy, but his usual rider, Rico Walcott, is back on board Saturday.

Trainer Alan May thinks Shem has a good shot of pulling off a mild upset. Shem was making his first start for May when he rallied to finish second in the Spangled Jimmy. Shem came back to work a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.40 around the dogs last Friday.

“I wish we had a little help up front, but I think he’ll be a little closer this time,” May said. “He had a long rest before his last start and he should move forward with a race under him. That was also a nice easy work for him.”

Hastings based Mario Gutierrez will ride Shem.

Cool Ventura, the local horse of the year in 2009, figures to improve in his second start this year. Trained by Cody Anderson, Cool Ventura will relish the added distance after running an even race to finish fifth in the Spangled Jimmy. His most important win last year was in the $100,000 Speed to Spare.

Inuit Fisher sharpened up for this with a win in a 6 1/2-furlong, $40,000 optional claimer on July 16, and if asked he has enough speed to put pressure on Salt Flat Speed early. He rallied to finish second in a one-mile, $40,000 optional claimer on July 1 and also came from off the pace in his win last Friday.