05/27/2017 7:25PM

Trooper John makes strong bid for Canadian Derby

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Trooper John established himself as the local favorite for the Grade 3 Canadian Derby with a convincing win in the $48,500 Western Canada Handicap at Northlands Park on Saturday. 

Sent off as the second choice in the wagering, he paid $7.60 for his half-length win over Bar No Q in the 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds.

The margin wasn’t large, but it was an impressive performance by the son of Colonel John. With Keishan Balgobin riding, Trooper John was well back early and made a quick move on the backside to get within range of the leaders going into the second turn. He was full of run while making a strong move along the rail on the turn,  kept rolling in the stretch and split Bar No Q and Rock Victor nearing the wire.

Rock Victor was sent off as the odds-on favorite but after being pressed by Bar No Q through a half-mile in 45.06 seconds came up empty in the stretch and finished third, a nose behind Bar No Q.

The final time was 1:10.10.

“I knew they were going pretty fast up front so I was happy with where we were early,” Balgobin said. “He’s a nice horse and he’ll be better going longer.”

It was Trooper John’s first start since he won the one-mile $49,000 Canadian Juvenile at Northlands on Oct. 22.

He is trained by Tim Rycroft and owned by Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd.

Journal Handicap

Annie’s Candy got away with a soft first quarter-mile split on his way to winning the $48,500 Journal Handicap for 3-year-olds and up. He paid $7.00.

With Rico Walcott riding, Annie’s Candy broke sharply and emerged with the lead coming out of the first turn. He looked comfortable while being pressured by Hold the Giant through the first quarter-mile in 22.80 seconds. He was a length in front of Hold the Giant after a half in 45.20 seconds and by the same margin at the top of the stretch.

Under strong urging from Walcott, he never looked threatened while extending his margin of victory to 1 3/4 lengths over Hold the Giant. Clear the Runway rallied from a stalking position to finish third. Heavily favored Killin Me Smalls didn’t fire while finishing a dull fourth.

Killin Me Smalls was expected to be part of the pace, but after breaking alertly he never really got involved.

“When I saw Killin Me Smalls wasn’t inside of me I drove him to the rail and tried to get him to relax,” Walcott said. “When I asked him to run in the stretch he really responded.”

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Twirling Candy, Annie’s Candy is trained by Monica Russell.

His owner, Peter Redekop, claimed him for $40,000 out of a winning race at Santa Anita on Feb. 18. He was coming off a runner-up finish in a $35,000 optional-claiming race at Hastings on May 7.