Updated on 09/15/2011 12:35PM

They used to be stakes runners


EDMONTON, Alberta - The field for the seventh race on Friday night at Northlands Park, a $25,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles, has a number of former stakes performers, including South Side, Royal Group, and Gray Aras.

Royal Group, seventh in last year's Canadian Derby and claimed for $25,000 last time out, will make his first start for trainer Stu Simon. An Alberta-bred 4-year-old, Royal Group looked strong on the road to the Canadian Derby, but suffered a quarter crack that almost kept him out of the race.

Leading rider Richard Hamel will be aboard Royal Group for the first time. Royal Group will likely settle off the pace.

Gray Aras, trained by Pam McDougall, is the early speed in the race. He will be ridden by Quincy Welch.

A 5-year-old gelding, Gray Aras has been rock-solid this season, and while this will be his first race of the year beyond one mile, the additional distance should not be a factor.

An Alberta-bred, South Side has been like money in the bank of late, finishing first or second in his last five starts. Anderson Trotman has the mount.

Free and Cagey, who finished fourth in the Alberta Derby at Stampede Park last year, gets a five-pound weight allowance with apprentice Leanne Noel aboard. A British Columbia-bred 4-year-old, Free and Cagey will be a longshot but could be in the money.

Rounding out the field of six are Turbulence, who will be ridden by Jamie Santos, and Sleep Till Noon, with Stephan Heiler aboard.