09/22/2004 11:00PM

A Shaky Start one of Fall Classic stars


EDMONTON, Alberta - Bettors will benefit from wide-open fields here on Saturday's Alberta Fall Classic Day, the richest day of Thoroughbred racing in the province this year. Northlands has carded seven stakes worth a total of $400,000.

One of the best battles of the day is expected in the $75,000 Fall Classic Distaff, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares in which A Shaky Start will look to bounce back from a mediocre effort in the City of Edmonton Distaff here Aug. 28. A 4-year-old filly trained by Al Stumecki, A Shaky Start was the only filly to beat Raylene last year, and a win here would cap off a year that has already seen A Shaky Start win two stakes in seven starts.

Her primary challenge is expected to come from Northern Neechitoo, a 7-year-old who has won over $340,000 in her career but has had an off year by her standards, with just 2 wins in 8 starts.

The $50,000 Red Diamond Express is the one sprint on the Classic Day portion of the card, and owner-trainer Deanne Davies thinks Sixthirtyjoe may regain his winning form in the race. Davies was torn between entering Sixthirtyjoe here in the 6 1/2-furlong Red Diamond Express or in the Breeders' Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

"We had a real tough time in Calgary, but he's like a roller coaster," said Davies. "He started to find his form once we got back here and he looks ready."

Sixthirtyjoe, the likely favorite, will give up at least seven pounds to his rivals after being saddled with high weight of 123 pounds.

The $50,000 Beaufort for 3-year-olds will be the last look this year at Royalty Boy, the only Alberta-bred to enter the Canadian Derby earlier this summer at Northlands Park and the winner of the Manitoba Derby in early August. Trained by Bruce Phelan, Royalty Boy will start from post 6 in the 1 1/16-mile Beaufort and will come from off the pace as he tries to register his third win on the year.

The 3-year-old fillies will do battle in the $50,000 Alberta Oaks, in which Kellys Guest will look to rebound after a sluggish effort in the $100,000 Sonoma on Aug. 14. With four wins on the year, Kelly's Guest could nail down the award as the province's top 3-year-old filly with a strong race in the one-mile Oaks.

Rounding out the card are the $50,000 Sturgeon River for 2-year-old fillies and the $50,000 Premier's Futurity for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Both races go at one mile.