08/05/2010 1:54PM

Weight adds to challenge for Salt Flat Speed at Northlands


Trainer Jim Meyaard wasn’t exactly happy with the 126 pounds assigned to Salt Flat Speed for the $50,000 Westerner Handicap at Northlands Park on Saturday. Nonetheless, Meyaard was confident Salt Flat Speed would be able the handle the heavy impost when he runs in the 1 1/16-mile feature that drew seven horses and goes as race 7.

“When he works, he carries 140 to 145 pounds, so it shouldn’t slow him down too much,” Meyaard said.

Salt Flat Speed has earned every pound he will be packing. He has won his last five races and has swept the stakes races in the older handicap division at Northlands this year. He does it by basically running his opponents off their feet. In each of Salt Flat Speed’s wins, he was in front after a half-mile and was particularly impressive when he won the Don Fleming carrying 124 pounds July 24. Despite the weight and being under pressure while posting quick fractions, Salt Flat Speed took control of the race on the stretch turn and waltzed home to a three-length win over Footprint.

“He keeps amazing us,” Meyaard said.

Meyaard isn’t the only one impressed by Salt Flat Speed and he will likely be a very short price with usual rider Rico Walcott aboard.

Meyaard also likes the way Andiotis is coming up to the race. He haltered Andiotis on behalf of Wise Management Ltd. for $10,000 on July 14, and according to DRF’s Formulator, Meyaard has won with 9 of the last 22 horses he has brought back the first time after a claim.

The horse with the best chance of putting an end to Salt Flat Speed’s streak is Cool Ventura. Trained by Cody Anderson, Cool Ventura is making just his third start of the year and he improved quite a bit when he finished third behind Salt Flat Speed in the Don Fleming. Cool Ventura will be using the Westerner Handicap as a stepping-stone to the $75,000 Speed to Spare on Aug. 21, which he won last year. The win helped convince voters to make him the horse of the year in Alberta in 2009.

Mr. Shader is stepping up in class after a sharp win over Inuit Fisher in a $40,000 optional claimer on July 28.

Shem will try and rebound after finishing last as the second choice behind Salt Flat Speed in the Don Fleming.