06/07/2001 11:00PM

Ball and Chain faces tough test


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Older stakes horses get to stretch out for the first time this season in the 1 1/16-mile John Longden 6,000 on Sunday at Hastings Park. With a plethora of speed in the race, it couldn't set up any better for late-running Ball and Chain.

Ball and Chain, a 4-year-old, was sent off as the favorite in the Victoria Day on May 21. The Victoria Day is listed at 6 1/2 furlongs, but with Galavant forcing him wide the whole way, Ball and Chain probably ran closer to seven furlongs while finishing a fast-closing third to King Jeremy.

King Jeremy, Lord Nelson, and Rampaging Alf all have tremendous speed, and Ball and Chain should feast on what is likely to be an extremely hot pace. His trainer, Allan Jack, offered a word of caution, however.

"He grabbed a quarter when he worked the other day, and he had to miss a day of training," Jack said.

One missed day doesn't seem like much to worry about, but with rain predicted for the weekend, Jack was also concerned about how Ball and Chain would handle a wet track. "He didn't run very well on it the first time, but it was his first start, and he was only going 3 1/2 furlongs."

Ball and Chain does have the highest Tomlinson wet track rating in the field, a fact that was unknown to Jack. "That's good to know. That gives me a lot more confidence," he said.

King Jeremy has won four of his five races at 1 1/16 miles and only a bob of the head loss to Ball and Chain in the Richmond Derby trial kept him from being unbeaten at the distance. He won the Victoria Day from just off of a hot pace set by Lord Nelson.