06/22/2003 11:00PM

Sixthirtyjoe gets back on track


EDMONTON, Alberta - Sixthirtyjoe, an unlikely winner of horse of the year honors on the Alberta circuit last year, entered his current campaign as one of the leading lights in the province.

His performance in Calgary this spring, however, was less than awe-inspiring.

With just two second-place finishes and only $18,256 earned in his first four starts as a 5-year-old, Sixthirtyjoe returned to Edmonton last Saturday and won the $40,000 Journal Handicap at a distance of 6 1/2 furlongs.

The change of scenery seemed to do him good, as did a change of tactics on the part of jockey Real Simard.

"He didn't have the best spring," he said. "The last time out, I sent him when there was no other speed in the race and that didn't work, so I just tried to send him out different today."

Under less than ideal conditions, with jockeys staying away from the heavy mud on the inside part of the track most of the day, Simard found that Sixthirtyjoe was enjoying the tough sledding, and he urged him through the wide-open inside on the final turn.

By the top of the lane, Sixthirtyjoe had closed to within a half-length and would go on to win by 3 1/2 lengths.

"Everybody was trying to stay off the rail, but when I got him down there he was handling it really good," Simard said.

"He was skipping through it easily so I wasn't worried about staying down there. Actually, it felt like he was going over a fast track so I said, 'I'm not going to try and go three-wide when I got the rail.' So I stayed inside, and it worked out."

King Jeremy finished second, with Fussy's Kid another 2 3/4 lengths back in third.