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Power In Numbers?

Published: December 4, 2013 10:20 pm ET

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Already boasting an impressive list of winners in the Western Canada Pacing Derby and companion Northlands Filly Pace, Hall of Fame horseman Keith Clark will look to continue his success in Northlands Park’s $75,000 signature races for three-year-olds this weekend at the Edmonton oval.

Clark dominates the stakes entries with a total of five starters -- three colts in Saturday’s Western Canada Pacing Derby and a pair of fillies in Friday’s Northlands Filly Pace. The stablemates are all owned in part by longtime racehorse owner and businessman Robert Jones, who approached the De Winton horseman many years ago to begin their partnership with a Harrisburg Sale yearling. Clark is hoping the quintet of stakes starters will bring the deserving owner some more racing luck this weekend.

Among their Derby contenders is Beren Hanover, who won his elimination last weekend in 1:56.2 and is the 2-1 second choice in the final with post four.

“He’s been racing good his last three or four starts and it’s a good time to be getting good,” Clark told Trot Insider. “He seems healthy and came out of the elimination good. I’m hoping he’s got a big one in him.”

The versatile Rocknroll Hanover colt boasts a four-for-six record racing at Northlands Park, including an Open victory in 1:55.2 over the off track just prior to his elimination win.

“He likes a little softer track I think and he’s just healthier right now,” said Clark of Beren Hanover’s current form. “My horses were sick a lot in Lacombe [for the Alberta Downs meet] and are all pretty healthy right now.”

Bettor In The Bank finished second to stablemate Beren Hanover in the eliminations after closing from the back of the field. He will start from post seven on Saturday with Phil Giesbrecht back in the bike for Clark.

While the veteran trainer notes that the rest of the competition may have a bit of a class edge on his Bettor Tuwin colt who went unraced as a two-year-old, he says Bettor In The Bank is just rounding into form.

“Some of the better horses are tired a bit right now and he’s kind of on his game right now,” said Clark. “He’s not as good of a horse as some of them, but he’s racing good right now, which means a lot. He raced real good last week and the week before he won in [1]:56 on the off track and in the cold. He didn’t draw that good for the final, but he’s racing good so he’s got a shot to get a decent cheque.”

Clark’s other starter in the field of eight is American Venture, who just advanced to the final off a fourth-place finish in the fastest elimination. Morning line favourite Big N Bad was the dominant winner in 1:54.2 for trainer Lance Ward with 2013 O’Brien Award of Horsemanship nominee Jim Marino in the bike. Driver Gerry Hudon will look to pull off back-to-back upsets in the Derby for Clark with American Venture after winning the 2012 edition aboard 18-1 shot Sharkalucchi. Having gone winless since the spring, the American Ideal colt has been assessed at odds of 10-1 and will start from post five.

“We’ve done a lot of work on him the last two weeks hoping that it might help, but he hasn’t been finishing well,” said Clark. “He probably has more speed than the other two of mine, but he just hasn’t been finishing and that’s where they pay so we’re just hoping for a better race with him.”

While Kelly Hoerdt, another 2013 O’Brien Award of Horsemanship nominee, has the numbers on his side in the Northlands Filly Pace with three starters, Clark appears to have the edge on the morning line sending out the two favourites.

Contesta Hanover was used hard to win her elimination in 1:58.2 defeating Hoerdt’s Emotions Run Wild and Skade. Hudon will pick up the drive aboard the Yankee Cruiser filly, who has drawn post three for the final and is the 9-2 second choice to her stablemate.

“She’s a very, very lazy horse, but always races well,” said Clark, whose last Northlands Filly Pace winner was 11-1 upsetter Dewinton Destroyer in 2011. “She’s not too lazy in a race, but it was hell to get to the races. She’s a good little racehorse. She’s not as speedy as some of them, but she can follow along and she can be tough at the end of it. She always comes home.”

The 8-5 morning line favourite, Keep The Dream was a runner-up to the fastest elimination winner, Gerald McGinn trainee G Ts Selene, in a 1:56.2 mile. The Mach Three filly, who was recently acquired by Clark, has the inside post advantage in the final while G Ts Selene drew the outside eight-hole.

“I bought her off a friend of mine who is racing in Ontario,” said Clark, referring to trainer Travis Umphrey. “He called me up and said he had a decent filly here for sale and I bought her off of him. I just went on his word and she’s turned out well. The last couple of starts she hasn’t been as good as she was going, but I expect a good race out of her and she drew the rail so that will help her too.”

The fields for the Western Canada Pacing Derby and Northlands Filly Pace will line up as follows.

$75,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby
Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line
1. Big N Bad - Jim Marino - Lance Ward - 8-5
2. Brenin - Jamie Gray - Jamie Gray - 15-1
3. Tip Top Tap - Rod Hennessy - Rod Hennessy - 6-1
4. Beren Hanover - Keith Clark - Keith Clark - 2-1
5. American Venture - Gerry Hudon - Keith Clark - 10-1
6. Play Me Right - Brandon Campbell - Sanford Campbell - 4-1
7. Bettor In The Bank - Philip Giesbrecht - Keith Clark - 8-1
8. Outlaw Falcon - J.F. Gagne - Donna Sarin - 20-1
AE1. Gotta Bad Attitude - Gary Clark - Gary Clark - 15-1
AE2. Blue Star Admiral - Bill Tainsh Jr. - Glenn Lutz - 8-1

$75,000 Northlands Filly Pace
Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line
1. Keep The Dream - Keith Clark - Keith Clark - 8-5
2. Skade - Brandon Campbell - Kelly Hoerdt - 12-1
3. Contesta Hanover - Gerry Hudon - Keith Clark - 9-2
4. Crackers Hot Shot - Bill Tainsh Jr. - Rod Starkewski - 8-1
5. Barona Lilac - Jim Marino - Kelly Hoerdt - 10-1
6. Emotions Run Wild - Kelly Hoerdt - Kelly Hoerdt - 6-1
7. Cenalta Fireworks - Scott Knight - Rene Goulet - 15-1
8. G Ts Selene - Travis Cullen - Gerald McGinn - 3-1
AE1. American Passion - Gerry Hudon - Gerry Hudon - 10-1
AE2. Beach Baby - Bill Tainsh Jr. - Harold Haining - 20-1

Post time for the Friday and Saturday cards is 6 p.m. (MST) with the signature stakes events set for the 10th race each night.

To view this weekend's entries at Northlands Park and free, printable program pages courtesy TrackIT, click on the following links:

Friday Entries / Saturday Entries

Friday Program / Saturday Program

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