04/11/2007 12:00AM

She's Italian faces elders in 2007 debut

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CALGARY, Alberta - She's Italian, the overwhelming favorite to be named the local champion 3-year-old of 2006, makes her seasonal debut in an open $23,500 allowance here at Stampede Park on Friday. The six-furlong race for fillies and mares comes on the eve of Alberta's annual awards banquet, which will be held here Saturday.

She's Italian blossomed last fall to capture a pair of stakes at Northlands Park after beginning the year in $25,000 claiming company. A winner of six races and $137,899 in 2006, She's Italian makes her first start against older fillies and mares Friday.

But She's Italian, an Alberta-bred, looks up to the challenge off a string of strong works for trainer Doug MacDonald, including a bullet five-furlong move in 1:02.40 here April 6. She's Italian drew post 2 with regular rider Jake Barton up.

She's Italian faces former Ontario runner Turtle Drive, a 6-year-old who was impressive at Woodbine last spring before she tailed off. Turtle Drive displayed plenty of early foot in her early races last year, winning twice, and was claimed last August by her present connections for $60,000.

Turtle Drive drew the outside post, with Quincy Welch riding for trainer Dale Greenwood.

Braetta, an 8-year-old who won her first stakes last year, drew the rail and will be rolling late under Desmond Bryan. Trained by Don Gilkyson, Braetta won 4 of 10 races in 2006.