06/08/2006 11:00PM

B.C. Derby ultimate goal for 'Ok Nothanks'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $125,000 Victoria Park Stakes, to be run Sunday at Woodbine, is usually the last opportunity for local 3-year-olds to prep for the Queen's Plate. But the connections of the likely favorite, Ok Nothanksforaskn, have the Sept. 24 British Columbia Derby in mind for their improving colt.

Ok Nothanksforaskn, a private purchase last fall by owner K.K. Sangara from trainer Mark Casse, was a well-beaten fifth when he made his first start of the season over a sloppy track in the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes. He improved significantly three weeks ago in the 1 1/16-mile Marine Stakes, finishing second to Malakoff after setting quick fractions.

Trainer Lorne Richards said Ok Nothanksforaskn needed his first start of the year, and said he wasn't surprised by the colt's strong showing in the Grade 3 Marine.

"He ran good, and I thought he would," Richards explained. "I think he got a lot out of that first race. [Malakoff] ran better than I thought he would."

Richards said Sangara, a B.C. resident, is keen on capturing the Grade 3 B.C. Derby at Hastings.

"K.K.'s big thing is to try and win the B.C. Derby," Richards said. "Everything's centered around having [Ok Nothanksforaskn] good at that time."

Richards explained that there aren't many opportunities in open company for 3-year-olds at Woodbine. After the Victoria Park, the next similar stakes is the Ontario Derby on Oct. 1.

Just three others besides Ok Nothanksforaskn were entered in the nine-furlong Victoria Park, the supporting feature on Woodbine Oaks Day.

Harborage, based in New York with trainer Gary Contessa, is exiting a non-threatening sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont. He won his maiden in February at Tampa, and ran second in a $100,000 optional claimer two starts back at Aqueduct.

Runaway Hit has won twice at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, including a daylight victory in a first-level allowance May 14.

Trainer Danny Vella said Runaway Hit has trained encouragingly heading into the Victoria Park.

"He blew out a half-mile in 48.80 [Thursday] morning, and worked a strong three-quarters of a mile last week," Vella said. "He's coming into it very well. He's never been beaten around two turns, and I hope I can keep it that way."

Italiano defeated $62,500 claimers over a muddy strip going seven furlongs eight days ago, and is questionable going this far.

Alywow: Arravale adds Lasix

Midris and Arravale head a large field of 3-year-old fillies in Sunday's other stakes, the $100,000 Alywow at 6 1/2 furlongs on the grass.

Midris, a ship-in from Belmont, was a listed stakes winner at 2 in England before being sent to trainer Christophe Clement in Florida. In her lone North American outing in a second-level allowance at Gulfstream, she finished fourth behind Miss Shop, who subsequently won the Beru Stakes at Belmont.

Arravale took the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes going a mile over this course in September, and is unbeaten in two grass starts for trainer Mac Benson. She has worked quickly for her return from an extended layoff, and the Alywow will be her first start with Lasix.

Serena's Cat, based at Churchill with trainer Bill Mott, is also in the 14-horse field, two of whom are also-eligibles.