06/24/2010 11:00PM

Bank Emblem can fire fresh


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Only five horses are running in Sunday's feature race at Hastings, a money allowance race for 3-year-olds and up going 6 1/2 furlongs, but it ranks as one of the best races you will see here all year.

The horse to beat is Bank Emblem, who is returning from a lengthy layoff. That isn't a bad thing, however. Every time Bank Emblem has had a break in his career he has won his first start back.

Rob Gilker has been Bank Emblem's trainer since he claimed him for $50,000 on behalf of Leo and Norma Shaw on May 19, 2008. Since then Bank Emblem has won six races, including three stakes. He closed out 2009 with wins in the PNE Presidents Speed and the $50,000 Express Handicap. His best race may have been in the Longacres Mile where he was beaten only three lengths despite getting bumped around at the sixteenth pole. Gilker has taken his time bringing Bank Emblem back to the races.

"He had a few problems so he spent some time over the winter at a veterinary clinic in Kamloops," said Gilker. "It has been a journey to get him back to where he is now. He is the coolest horse in the planet, so we weren't going to rush him back."

Frank Fuentes retains the mount.

Bank Emblem has good speed, but in his last two wins he came from off the pace. The one they will probably have to catch is Woombroom Express. Trained by Quint McCabe, Woombroom Express won three races in 2009, including the B.C. Cup Sprint. In his last start he battled every step of the way through fast fractions and was very game in defeat, losing by a head to Cardinal Zin.

Burj Dubai could end up being favored off of his impressive debut win in a maiden special weight race for trainer Dino Condilenios. This is a serious step up in class, however.

Arkhill, who has won 8 of his 11 starts, may have finished last in the same race as Woombroom Express, but it looked like he was going to win the race before the hole he was trying to go through along the rail at the top of the stretch closed abruptly.

Seminole Brave is a sprint stakes winner and could easily win if he brings his best stuff.