09/21/2005 11:00PM

Alabama Rain faces invaders


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Local star Alabama Rain will have to run the race of his life to cross the wire first in a very competitive field of 3-year-olds in the Grade 2, $250,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Saturday.

Of the 12 horses entered in the 1 1/8-mile B.C. Derby, six, including Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby winner Alexandersrun, are shipping in from other jurisdictions.

The supporting feature, the 1 1/8-mile $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill, also drew an excellent field - including last year's B.C. Derby winner, Flamethrowintexan; 2004 local horse of the year Lord Nelson; and Quiet Cash, the runner-up in the Longacres Mile. Both races are part of the Rocky Mountain Win 4, which includes the last two races from Northlands Park - the Fall Classic Distaff and Beaufort stakes.

Alabama Rain is coming into the derby in peak condition, according to his trainer, Lance Giesbrecth. In his last start, Alabama Rain scored an impressive 4 3/4-length win in the Grade 3, 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 27. And despite a long trip and a grueling race, Alabama Rain has looked extremely sharp since returning to Hastings.

He'll be ridden by Pedro Alvarado, who was pleased with Alabama Rain's final six-furlong work on Sept. 17.

"He felt great," said Alvarado. "He finished full of run, and I don't think Lance could have him any better."

Meanwhile, Yes He's a Pistol could be an overlay. He's been installed at 5-1 on the program morning-line and considering that he finished second to Illinois Derby winner Greeley's Galaxy earlier this year, he looks like the horse to beat. Also, Russell Baze, the second winningest rider in history, will fly in to ride.

In his most recent start, Yes He's a Pistol finished a fast-closing second in an $80,000 optional race on the turf at Del Mar Aug. 27. He was claimed out of that race by Mike and Karnel Jawl, and they shipped him to trainer Cindy Krasner soon after.

Lakeville Rush has made a strong impression since arriving from Woodbine. Trained by David Dwyer, Lakeville Rush comes into the derby off a hard-fought win in a seven-furlong, $100,000 claiming race Aug. 3.

The Thomas Bell-owned entry of Appearance Fee and Alexandersrun should attract plenty of support, despite drawing post 11 and 12, respectively. Both horses have won two stakes in a row.

Monashee seeks to become the first filly to win the B.C. Derby since 1959.