07/21/2005 11:00PM

B.C. Cup standouts scare others away


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A total of 118 horses have been nominated to the eight races that make up British Columbia Cup Day. All eight races, seven stakes and a starter handicap, are restricted to B.C.-breds. B.C. Cup is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 1.

With that many horses nominated, it would seem that full fields would be the order of the day. But racing secretary Lorne Mitchell will have a hard time convincing some trainers to enter against Roscoe Pito in the Classic and against Alabama Rain in the colts division of the Stallion Stakes.

Both 2-year-old races and the Endurance Series figure to have full fields, though, and the fillies division of the Stallion could be the most competitive race on the card.

It appears that the $65,000 Classic will have at most five horses, and Roscoe Pito will likely be the odds-on favorite. A 5-year-old gelding, Roscoe Pito finished fourth in the John Longden Handicap in June and then ran what his trainer John Snow referred to as "one of his best races ever," when he finished second in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors' Handicap on July 1. That's saying a lot for a horse who was the horse of the year in British Columbia in 2003. As a 3-year-old, he won both the Emerald Downs Derby and B.C. Derby, and he beat older horses in the Grade 3 Premiers.

"It was the first time he really looked comfortable rating," said Snow. "Plus, he probably needed the race, because he didn't get very much out of the John Longden. He banged his head in the gate in the Longden, and he never really put out."

Snow said Roscoe Pito is training extremely well and is ready to run a huge race. He also said he plans to work Roscoe Pito six furlongs Sunday for his final prep.

Trainer Lance Giesbrecht said he was thinking of sending Alabama Rain to Northlands Park to run in a prep race for the $300,000 Canadian Derby, but after he examined the potential field for the colts division of the Stallion Stakes, he decided to stay home.

"It came up a lot easier than I thought it would," said Giesbrecht. "So we'll run him here, and if all goes well we'll ship him to Alberta after the race. I would like to get him to Alberta as soon as possible."

Giesbrecht cringed when another trainer said that the Stallion Stakes looked like a walkover for Alabama Rain.

"Don't say that," he said. "It does look like an easy spot for him, but anything can happen when they spring the gate, and it's the kiss of death when you're that confident."

Alabama Rain has won three stakes and has never been worse than third in his career. The only other stakes winner being pointed to the Stallion Stakes is No Sox Fox, but he has won only sprint races, and

he finished 9 3/4 lengths behind Alabama Rain when they met in the Jim Coleman Province on July 3.

Giesbrecht also has strong contenders in the Nursery, for 2-year-old colts and gelding, and the Distaff, for fillies and mares.

Arizona Drifter will likely be favored in the Nursery off of his 7 3/4-length win in a maiden special weight race July 16. Giesbrecht wasn't surprised that he won the race, but he didn't expect that type of dominating performance.

"He's a nice horse, but I never thought he would win that easily," he said.

Feu Express and Red's Memories should make Arizona Drifter work a lot harder in the Nursery.

Giesbrecht will saddle Victor's Secret in the Distaff. Either she or Socorro County will be favored.

Trainer Dino Condilenios has nominated Five Point Star to both the Sprint and Classic, and he confirmed that Five Point Star will be back to defend his title in the Sprint.

A 5-year-old son of Amaruk, Five Point Star set the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Lieutenant Governors' but tired badly and finished ninth.

"He'll run better in the Sprint," said Condilenios. "I think he just bounced off of his win in the Herald Gold Plate in Alberta. He's a lot sharper now."

Condilenios said he is planning to work Five Point Star five furlongs Sunday.

Lord Nelson made the nomination lists for the Classic and the Sprint, but Condilenios said that Lord Nelson will not run.

The fillies division shapes up as one of the best races on the card. Regal Pusher and Slewpast are the top two horses in the fillies division of the Stallion Stakes, but last year's local 2-year-old filly champ, Backseat Becka, could make a race of it. Avenging Kat could also make it interesting. She broke a step slowly when she finished fifth in the Northlands Park Oaks on July 15, but she has never lost at Hastings and should improve in her second try going around three turns.

The Debutante, for 2-year-old fillies, appears to be wide open. Jittery Julia and Pickin Pale Gold are the only horses who have won going around two turns. Devil's Turn looked good winning her maiden going 3 1/2 furlongs, and she worked a very sharp five furlongs Friday morning in 1:01.

Since its inception in 1995, B.C. Cup day has become the biggest day of racing at Hastings.