07/20/2005 11:00PM

Trip the determining factor in Mendel

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SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - A full field of 10 older geldings will line up in Saturday's $6,000 Fred Mendel Memorial Handicap at Marquis Downs, and the race is so competitive that a case could be made for any of the entrants. Run at a mile, the Mendel has a nice mix of front-runners, stalkers, and closers, and it just may be that the horse that gets the best trip will be the one to win.

Double Time won the Early's Top Seeded and the most recent allowance prep for the Mendel, and will be on or near the lead from the bell. A winner of 13 races over the last three meetings, Double Time is best going shorter but has won at this distance.

Sand Rush arrives from Assiniboia Downs, where he had a third, a second, and finally a win at the $10,000 claiming level to kick off his season. Sand Rush then jumped up into the stakes ranks and ran a solid third in the Free Press at 10-1. Most recently, he ran second to multiple stakes winner Lord Shogun in a 7 1/2-furlong allowance.

Bullinsky won back-to-back allowance races here this spring at a half-mile and at six furlongs, both times defeating Double Time. He then shipped to Assiniboia Downs and beat just one horse in two efforts for a $14,000 tag. Bullinsky, like Sand Rush and Double Time, will be near the engine and this trio may knock each other out.

Beauzak is the most logical closer as he missed by a head to Double Time last time out at seven furlongs. Beauzak, a Saskatchewan Derby winner, closed more than seven lengths in that allowance prep and will appreciate the added furlong.

Beau Ring and Rouge Royale have been local stars for years, and on their best efforts either could get the job done.

Max Factor won for an $8,000 price at Assiniboia at a mile on July 2, while Rugged Cliff and Arctic Horizon arrive from Lethbridge where they both have a win on the season.

Noble Dane won the Saskatchewan Derby in 2004 and prefers a mile or longer.

* Wind Dancer should be a very short price in Saturday's $7,500 Sales Stake for 3-year-old graduates of the 2003 Prairie Lily Sale. Wind Dancer has won both his starts in 2005, including a 6 1/2-length score two weeks ago in the Saskatoon Handicap. The Sales Stake is run over seven furlongs.