Premiers Stakes Headline NP Opener

Published: October 23, 2013 03:51 pm EDT

Harness racing returns to Northlands Park this weekend featuring stakes action right out of the gate.

The new meet kicks off on Friday at 6 p.m. with a 12-race card, which includes the $100,000 Premiers Pace that will be split into four divisions for freshmen.

The fillies will head to post first with three-time Alberta Sires Stakes champion Triple Action headlining the seventh race field as the 2-1 morning line favourite and the streaking Sweet Sugar assessed as the early 8-5 favourite in the eighth race.

Triple Action will start from post five in her division with Philip Giesbrecht driving for trainer Joe Ratchford and the Calgary-based Raggs To Riches ownership group.

Riding a four-race win streak, including a pair of ABSS events and a division of the ASHA Filly Stakes, Sweet Sugar will have the inside post advantage in the second split. Alberta Downs meet leader Travis Cullen is listed to drive for trainer Tim Brown and owners Sandra Brown of Langley, B.C. and Archie Melnyk of Sherwood Park, Alta.

The second division also includes Nighttraintovegas, the richest and fastest filly of the bunch with a $45,264 bankroll and a 1:55 lifetime mark. Her regular driver, Brandon Campbell, will be the bike and the duo will start from post six. Nighttraintovegas is trained by Richard Schneider for owners Dick Schneider of Sherwood Park, Alta. and Edmonton's David Halmosi.

Alberta Downs track record holders National Debt and Blue Eyed Cowboy, who boast lifetime marks of 1:53.3, will headline the colt divisions, but both will be handicapped by trailing tier post positions.

National Debt will put his undefeated record on the line in the first colt division, scheduled as race 10. The even-money favourite has won his first three races, including an ASHA Colt Stakes division, for trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt and co-owners Blair and Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta.

Blue Eyed Cowboy will enter the following stakes division off three straight wins of his own, including ABSS and ASHA divisions. Bill Tainsh Jr. will drive the 2-1 morning line favourite for owner/trainer Rod Starkewski of Lamont, Alta.

With victories in the Horizon Pace and all three ABSS legs, Comes Home First is the richest colt in Friday's stakes event with $41,707 earned. He will look to add to that bankroll in the second division with Jim Marino aboard for trainer Lance Ward and the J J J Stables of Aldergrove, B.C.

Alberta Sires Stakes Marquis and Maverick Finals for three-year-old fillies and colts will headline Saturday's card, which also has a 6 p.m. post time.

To view Northlands Park's live racing schedule, click here.

Click here for free, printable program pages for Friday's harness racing card, courtesy TrackIT.