07/22/2009 12:00AM

Against the Sky tries to crank up after break


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Going into the 2008 B.C. Cup, Against the Sky was just your average claiming horse. The last thing in trainer Craig MacPherson's mind was the idea of running her in the B.C. Cup Distaff. Instead, MacPherson entered her against colts and geldings in the B.C. Cup Starter, which is restricted to horses that had started for an $8,000 claiming price in the past two years. Against the Sky scored an easy 4 1/4-length win over Chivago, and then proceeded to run off three more wins, culminating with a score in the Grade 3 Ballerina. By the time all the dust had settled, Against the Sky was named the champion local older filly or mare.

Against the Sky will be coming into this year's B.C. Cup Distaff on Aug. 3 as a proven stakes horse. However, she has had only two starts at the meet, and she hasn't raced since she finished fourth in the 6 1/2-furlong Brighouse Belles on May 3. That will be exactly three months between starts, and she will be required to go nine furlongs in the Distaff.

"It's in her hands and in her I trust," said MacPherson. "It is asking a lot but our hands have been tied, and there isn't much we could have done about it."

MacPherson wanted to give Against the Sky a break after she had lost both of her sprints this year. She has won only a single sprint in her career, so it wasn't surprising she didn't fire in either of her two races. MacPherson expected a bit more from her, however, and after her dull performance in the Brighouse Belles he sent her to the farm to hopefully freshen her up. The plan was to give her about 10 days off and then get her ready to run in the Vancouver Sun on July 1.

"We wanted her to start feeling good about herself again," said MacPherson. "The 10 days to two weeks turned into six weeks when she hurt herself coming off of the trailer while she was being unloaded at the farm."

According to MacPherson, Against the Sky slipped while being unloaded from the trailer, and not only did she cut herself up pretty badly but she also pulled a muscle in her hind end. MacPherson is pretty happy with the way Against the Sky is training, and he also knows the Distaff is shaping up pretty weak and there will likely be a short field.

"She is doing really well right now," said MacPherson. "She worked a strong mile on Tuesday and we'll give her another work next week sometime. I don't know exactly who is going to run in the Distaff - we'll be happy to take a walkover if we can get it - but I don't think it's going to be a very tough spot for her."

Because of the change in the conditions to the Distaff, Sprint, and Classic, the three races for older horses all figure to come up a bit light, especially the Distaff and Classic.

Last year, horses owned or bred in B.C. were eligible to the three races. This year the races are restricted to B.C.- or Washington-breds.

The first five finishers in the Vancouver Sun, the last stakes race for fillies or mares at Hastings, were all non-B.C.-breds.

MacPherson won't get his walkover because Mahaty Jo, who finished sixth in the Sun, is planning to run in the Distaff. She is trained by Cindy Krasner.

"I don't know who else will be running, so we may as well give it a shot," said Krasner. "Craig obviously has the best horse, but she has been off for quite a while, and Mahaty Jo is doing great right now."

Trick of the North to take a shot in Classic

Trainer Barb Heads is looking at giving Trick of the North a shot at Spaghetti Mouse and Krazy Koffee in the Classic. Trick of the North ran a big race to beat Huffman in a $50,000 optional race on July 4. It was his first start at Hastings this year. Trick of the North was coming off a win in a $25,000 claiming race on the Tapeta at Golden Gate on June 4.

Heads liked the way he handled the track here.

"He hit himself quite a bit when he was here before, and we weren't sure how he would handle it after running on Tapeta," said Heads. "He adapted to the track a lot better than I thought he would. He came out of his race in good shape, so we are going to nominate him and then play it by ear."

An 8-year-old gelding, Trick of the North has won 10 races and has earnings of $300,417. He has never won a stakes race but he has been stakes-placed seven times, and he finished third in the 2005 B.C. Cup Classic when it was restricted to B.C.-breds. He earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his latest win, and that would tie him with Krazy Koffee for the best last-race figure of those expected for the Classic.

Heads was pleased with Trick of the North's half-mile work in 49.60 seconds last Sunday.

"He was well within himself and just couldn't be doing any better," said Heads.