09/16/2004 12:00AM

B.C. Derby attracts deep field, leaving Rules of War shut out


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The $250,000 British Columbia Derby is shaping up to be quite a race. The field is so deep that the winner of the Richmond Derby Trial and arguably the best of the local 3-year-olds, Rules of War, isn't going to have enough earnings to make it into the race.

A total of 26 horses have been nominated, and the top 12 money-earners will get to start. At least 12 confirmed starters have more earnings than Rules of War, and unless there's a change before Sept. 26, he will have to run in the Derby Consolation.

Heading the list of probable B.C. Derby starters is Don'tsellmeshort, who has earned more than $386,000. A California-bred, Don'tsellmeshort is coming off a couple of dull efforts, but he was good enough to win the California Breeders Championship at Santa Anita last December, and he finished second in the $250,000 Snow Chief at Hollywood Park in April. Don'tsellmeshort is supposed to arrive at trainer Lance Giesbrecht's barn in the next couple of days.

"I'm not sure why he ran so poorly in his last two starts," said Giesbrecht, "but I saw his race at Fairplex and he was pretty fractious at the gate, and maybe that had something to do with it."

Don'tsellmeshort is owned by Cecil Peacock and has spent most of his career with trainer Dan Hendricks.

Doug O'Neill has nominated Perfect Moon and Lava Man, but Perfect Moon is headed to Indiana, O'Neill said.

"I would like to run Lava Man up there," he said. "If it makes sense financially for the owners, I think I can convince them to come. Plus, he ran so well at Fairplex" - like Hastings a five-furlong oval - "he should like Hastings."

In his last start, Lava Man won the Derby Trial at Fairplex by 6 1/4 lengths on Sept. 13.

Speaking of finances, the total purse for a non-B.C.-bred will likely be $316,500, with $189,900 going to the winner. A B.C.-bred winner would take home $209,400.

If Lava Man starts, he would go into the race with the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure - a 101. If not, the honor would fall to Gotaghostofachance, who posted a 100 for his 3 3/4-length win in the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth on Aug. 28.

Gotaghostofachance was recently purchased by Ross McLeod and Charles Ming for an undisclosed sum.

McLeod, the chief executive officer of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the majority owner of Hastings Entertainment, has been on a buying spree since taking over the track. He wasn't deterred when one of his recent purchases, Gratitude Attack, broke both legs and had to be put down following the Randall Plate on Sept. 6. In fact, McLeod showed a tremendous amount of class and fortitude by coming down and congratulating the owners of Rules of War for their win.

"He was very saddened, but he's in it for the long haul," said Steve Bryant, who trains Gotaghostofachance. "We bought this horse right after what happened to Gratitude Attack and I wasn't sure if he would still be that interested. He didn't bat an eye, though, and after our meet is over we're planning to take [Gotaghostofachance] and a few others to Southern California for the winter."

Trainer David Cotey is planning on shipping Strike Em Hard from Ontario for the derby.

Strike Em Hard is coming off a third-place finish to older horses in a $62,500 optional race at Woodbine on Aug. 28. He has won two races and earned $115,620. Cotey has also nominated Truth Serum.

Flamethrowintexan is a definite starter. He has won four of his last five starts and finished second in the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby on Sept. 6.

Numbers up at yearling and mixed sale

McLeod was the top spender at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (B.C. Division) yearling and mixed sale Tuesday.

The average price for a yearling at the sale jumped from $10,919 to $13,506, and total sales went from $1,210,400 to $1,538,500. The sale-topper went to Kim Hart for $72,000. The dark bay or brown colt is a full brother to 2002 B.C. Derby winner Cruising Kat, and also to Future Flash, who finished second to Rules of War in the Trial and will start in the B.C. Derby.