04/25/2008 12:00AM

Short field, but plenty of intrigue


CALGARY, Alberta - Sunday's 23rd running of the six-furlong M.R. Jenkins Memorial attracted just five fillies and mares, yet promises to be a highly competitive affair.

Alpine Garden, the top 3-year-old filly in British Columbia last year, and Tanika, holder of the same honor in this province in 2007, are set to square off for the third time in their young careers. They will be chasing the rapid Beth's Best Bet in the early stages of the $50,000 Jenkins Memorial.

Alpine Garden, the 122-pound highweight, won the first two matches between the rivals last fall, but both were route races; Alpine Garden's victories have all come beyond a mile. Tanika, who receives two pounds, has excellent sprint form.

Both Alpine Garden and Tanika, who are making their seasonal debuts, have tactical speed and will need to use it to keep Beth's Best Bet in their sights early.

Quincy Welch retains the mount on Alpine Garden, with regular rider Stephan Heiler aboard Tanika.

Beth's Best Bet was no match for either in the 1 1/16-mile Sonoma last August, but that is the only blemish on her 4-for-5 career record, and sprinting is her game. She was very impressive in an allowance prep here April 5, drawing off without urging from Rickey Walcott, and poses an upset threat.

All three fillies have won over off going, and the surface will be in that category following a week of bad weather.