07/30/2004 11:00PM

Win would give 'Deputy' sprint crown


EDMONTON, Alberta - Deputy Country, who has won the first two stakes for older horses at this meet, has a pair of 2004 Alberta titles in his sights as he heads a field of six in the Northlands Sun Sprint Championship at Northlands Park on Monday.

With a victory in the holiday feature, Deputy Country can virtually clinch the circuit's sprinting crown. The only horse who could deny him that honor is Dance Me Free, who won the Stampede Park Sprint Championship.

Deputy Country won the Journal Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs at Northlands on June 26, and the only other sprint for older stakes horses remaining after the Sun Sprint Championship is the Red Diamond Express here on Fall Classic Day, Sept. 25, for which only Alberta-breds are eligible.

Deputy Country is an Ontario-bred, Dance Me Free a British Columbia-bred.

Deputy Country also won the one-mile Teeworth Plate at Stampede and the 1 1/16-mile Spangled Jimmy here last time out, so he is well on his way toward his quest for Alberta's champion older horse crown.

Topweighted at 121 pounds, Deputy Country will be ridden by Richard Hamel and has post 3. Starting from the rail is Dance Me Free, ridden by Mike Iammarino at 114 pounds.

Sixthirtyjoe, the defending Alberta sprint champion and winner of this race a year ago, is second topweight at 117 pounds with Rickey Walcott aboard. His only victory this year came in an allowance race.

Wednesday will be a dark day, with racing resuming here Friday.