06/12/2003 12:00AM

Taiaslew defends his home turf


CALGARY, Alberta - Taiaslew, unbeaten in six starts in Alberta, will put his streak on the line here Saturday when he faces six foes in the 73rd running of the $100,000 Alberta Derby at Stampede Park.

The Alberta Derby, a Grade 3 race over 1 1/16 miles, is the highlight of the meeting, which winds up here Sunday.

Taialsew, a Washington-bred son of Slewdledo who was champion of his division here as a 2-year-old last year, has not missed a beat this spring for trainer Greg Tracy, winning two stakes by open lengths.

In his victory in the one-mile Hoofprint on My Heart here three weeks ago, Taiaslew carried high weight of 123 pounds, contested a rapid 46-second half, and drew off under a hand ride to score by 8 1/2 lengths under Real Simard.

Under the conditions of the Alberta Derby, Taiaslew drops two pounds while each of his rivals picks up weight.

The only blemish on Taiaslew's record is a third-place finish to Illusive Force in the Ascot Graduation last October at Hastings, and it is a West Coast invader who is expected to provide his most serious challenge here Saturday.

Gamblin Caper arrives off a front-running tally in the 6 1/2-furlong Klondike Handicap on May 31. Vancouver-based rider Nicola Wright will fly in to ride the California-bred son of Town Caper.

Trainer Terry Jordan will saddle Gamblin Caper, a gelding who was claimed for $25,000 on Feb. 17 at Santa Anita.

Gamblin Caper, rarely headed from the gate, drew post 6, just outside of Taiaslew, and is expected to be on the lead. Taiaslew has shown he will rate, and Simard has the task of keeping Gamblin Caper in his sights.

The two main protagonists stand out and their rivals - Shawteesh, Rindanica, Free Pour, Bet the Breeze, and Beau Brass - must hope for a duel to develop between them on the lead.

Shawteesh, a closing second in the Hoofprint on My Heart, drew post 3 with Leanne Painter up.

Rindanica comes off a victory in a one-mile conditioned allowance and drew the outside with Perry Winters aboard.

Free Pour finished well to run third in his first try at a mile here June 4, and breaks from post 2 under Peter Wong.

Bet the Breeze, stakes placed as a 2-year-old, breaks from post 4 with Stephan Heiler in the irons. Longshot Beau Brass will break from the inside post under Quincy Welch.