09/08/2009 11:00PM

Any one of five can win sprint


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Take your pick among any of the five older horses running for a top claiming price of $17,500 in the third race at Hastings on Friday. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint that will serve as the feature on the eight-race card appears to be a wide-open event.

Three of the horses - Savo Island, Dark Vader, and Colonel Courtney - are coming out of a similar race on Aug. 16.

Dark Vader, trained by Juan Olmos, was the winner. With Fernando Perez aboard, he battled with Savo Island for the first half-mile, took the lead on the stretch turn, and held off a stubborn Savo Island to win by a length. It was Dark Vader's fourth win this year and third at the meet. In his previous start he was claimed by Olmos for $12,500 out of a race won by Colonel Courtney on July 26. Perez retains the mount.

Savo Island is the only horse in the field without a win this year, but he's moving to the rail and with his good speed he could be dangerous. Trained by Rob Gilker, Savo Island also finished second two starts ago, in an optional $25,000 claimer on July 26. Savo Island has come from off the pace to win but it is likely jockey Pedro Alvarado will be sending him right to the lead from his inside post.

Colonel Courtney had won his two previous races prior to finishing third in his latest. Both of his wins were for $12,500 and for trainer Troy Taylor. He was claimed from Taylor out of a race on July 26. Acting on behalf of Glen Todd and Patrick Kensella, who were Colonel Courtney's previous owners, Taylor claimed him back on Aug. 16.

If Dark Vader and Savo Island get involved in an all-out duel it could set up nicely for Colonel Courtney, who figures to be sitting in a perfect stalking position with Mario Gutierrez. A 9-year-old gelding, Colonel Courtney has won 20 races in his career for earnings of $330,142.

Sir Gallant has won 3 of 5 starts this year and is dropping in class after finishing fourth as the favorite in a $25,000 optional claiming race on July 12. In his previous start, Sir Gallant came from just off the pace to win a $17,500 claiming race on June 28.

Lord Vic has won his last three races, two at this level, but he probably wants more distance.