05/12/2006 12:00AM

Trip likely to favor Catalone


CALGARY, Alberta - Sunday's featured optional $40,000 claimer at six furlongs is loaded with early speed, with Love's Conquest, Smooth Cruiser, and Hot Talk expected to contest the early lead here at Stampede Park.

The pace scenario favors Catalone, trained by Tom Dewey, who runs his best races from just off the lead and figures to get an ideal trip. Catalone, a 6-year-old gelding, comes off a good seasonal bow on April 26, closing well on a track that favored speed. He was beaten just a length by Sparhawk in the quick time of 1:10.

Chris McGregor retains the mount on Catalone, who breaks from post 2, just inside Love's Conquest, who finished second to subsequent Stampede Park Sprint Championship winner Smudgeledo in a six-furlong prep for the Sprint on April 16.

Smooth Cruiser drew post 6, and the 7-year-old gelding is always prominent early, although his 0-for-16 mark at this course make him a dubious win candidate.

The speed of the speed may be Hot Talk, who drew the outside post in the field of seven and has had excuses in both outings at this meet. Hot Talk, a 5-year-old gelding who finished second to Eternal Secrecy following a poor start in his seasonal bow, returned in the Sprint to prompt a rapid 44.80 half while racing three wide and faded to eighth.

Quincy Welch, who rode the victorious Smudgeledo in the Sprint, regains the mount on Hot Talk.