04/14/2004 12:00AM

Thunder Jake has fitness edge


CALGARY, Alberta - The road to the May 15 President's Handicap and, ultimately, the Alberta Derby begins Friday evening with a pair of six-furlong sprints scheduled as the sixth and seventh races.

When a conditioned allowance for nonwinners other than maiden or claiming drew 16 3-year-olds, race secretary Barry McGrath split the race, producing co-features that will give an early look at derby hopefuls.

Trainer Greg Tracy, who sent out Taiaslew to sweep the three 3-year-old stakes for colts and geldings here last spring, is hoping lightning can strike twice with Thunder Jake, whom he saddles in the sixth race. Both Taiaslew and Thunder Jake are by Slewdledo.

Thunder Jake arrives racing fit from Turf Paradise, a distinct advantage this early in the meet. He was second in his career debut Feb. 22 and came back to win his maiden March 9.

Tracy has put a pair of strong five-furlong works here into the California-bred Thunder Jake and leading rider Quincy Welch has the call.

Fantazmic and Ozzie's J J, third and fourth in a half-mile allowance here April 3, head the seventh race. Both runners tested stakes company in their juvenile campaigns and are eligible to improve off their 2004 debuts.

Chief Mtn and Duracat, a pair of stakes-placed runners, make their seasonal bows sporting some - Trainer Red Smith reports that Tigger Bay, the only male two-time juvenile stakes winner on this circuit last year, had to be put down last winter after an operation to repair a fractured knee was unsuccessful.