Updated on 09/17/2011 10:59AM

While the champ's away . . .

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EDMONTON, Alberta - The second race on the trail leading to the $150,000 Canadian Derby takes place here Friday night at Northlands Park when the top 3-year-olds in Alberta run in the Ky Alta at 1 1/16 miles.

With Taiaslew in Winnipeg preparing for the $100,000 Manitoba Derby on Aug. 4, the door is open for others to pick up a stakes win.

For trainers like Ryley Rycroft, who handles the probable favorite Rindanica, it's a perfect opportunity.

"With Taiaslew out of town, it makes for a more interesting race," said Rycroft. "He would definitely be the one to beat here otherwise.

"As it is I think we're in a good position, but there's a number of horses in this field that could win."

Rindanica has won twice in 2003, including the $40,000 Western Canada here July 1, and will carry high weight of 119 pounds.

Rycroft is not concerned about the distance of the Ky Alta - Rindanica handled it when he ran third in the 1 1/16-mile Alberta Derby - and says that the 1 3/8 miles of the Canadian Derby will suite Rindanica even better.

"For this horse, the farther the better," Rycroft said. "He doesn't have real long stride like Taiaslew, but he shouldn't have any problem handling the distance here, or in the derby."

The Ky Alta sets up with an expected early speed duel between Cool Bender and Reb's Drummer, with Rindanica and others stalking through the first half-mile. Jockey Perry Winters will hope to have Rindanica make a move through the final turn, like Rindanica did in the Western Canada.