04/29/2008 11:00PM

Stellar Lad has look of a star

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CALGARY, Alberta - In early May, the backstretch banter here is mostly about 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail, and local horsemen have begun to eye the Alberta Derby path on this circuit.

Trainer Ron Grieves, with several promising 3-year-olds in his large Stampede Park contingent, will send out Stellar Lad in Friday's sixth race, a maiden special weight at six furlongs.

Judging from Stellar Lad's performance in his debut on April 16, he could be something special.

Stellar Lad, a Kentucky-bred son of Pine Bluff, showed promise in his morning drills before that eventful outing, including a bullet five-furlong drill of 1:00.60 from the gate on April 2.

The gelding broke alertly from post 5 under Stephan Heiler, but things began to unravel on the first turn when Airo Faith drifted out badly and carried Stellar Lad and the eventual winner, Cool Ventura, well out to the center of the course.

Cool Ventura recovered to win the race with a strong, wide bid at the quarter pole, and Stellar Lad got caught in a switch and lacked running room on the final turn.

Heiler finally was able to find a path in midstretch after altering course, and Stellar Lad kept to his task to finish a closing fourth.

On Friday, Heiler is back aboard, and Stellar Lad will break from post 4 in the field of nine 3-year-olds.

Friday's 10-race program also includes a Quarter Horse stakes at 220 yards, which will go as the first race.