08/07/2008 11:00PM

Blue Sky Holiday does a trainer proud

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ANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer John Snow wasn't completely surprised by the very good effort put in by Blue Sky Holiday in the $50,513 B.C. Cup Distaff last Monday. Blue Sky Holiday was sent off as the longest shot in the five-horse field, but she came very close to pulling off a big upset. It was clearly the most surprising performance by any horse running in the seven stakes races.

Facing older stakes horses for the first time, Blue Sky Holiday finished third and was beaten by just a half-length. The winner, Alpine Garden, won the Grade 3 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks last year. Lady Raj, who finished second as the 3-5 favorite, had easily won the last two stakes races for fillies and mares at Hastings.

Blue Sky Holiday's credentials going into the race weren't that strong. She beat a very weak field when she won the $21,000 Oregon Oaks at Portland Meadows on March 11. She followed up her Oaks win with a fifth-place finish in a $75,000 optional race at Hastings and then got beat when she ran in a $35,000 claiming race on June 15. She did, however, run a big race to finish third in the Supernaturel Stakes on July 5.

"We only went into the race because it was a short field," said Snow. "I knew she had to jump up and run the best race of her life to contend. But she had really been training well, and I just had a feeling that she would run a big race. We also took the blinkers off, and I think that had a lot to do with it."

According to Snow, Blue Sky Holiday came out of her race in excellent shape and could make her next start in the $100,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs on Aug. 16. Blue Sky Holiday would be coming back pretty quickly in the Oaks though, especially considering how hard she ran in the Distaff.

"She just keeps amazing me," said Snow. "She trained great this morning, and she just couldn't be doing any better. We'll see who nominates to the Oaks and go from there If we don't run at Emerald we'll keep her here for the Hong Kong Jockey Club and then the B.C. Oaks. The timing is a lot better if we do keep her here."

The $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club is scheduled for Aug. 30.

Blue Sky Holiday received a Beyer Speed Figure of 79 for her strong performance, a 13-point jump from her previous best. Remarkable Miss, who won the B.C. Cup Dogwood for 3-year-old fillies, earned a 72. According to her trainer, Barb Heads, Remarkable Miss will make her next start in the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Despite the differences in their respective figures, Remarkable Miss, who is a multiple stakes winner with $174,505 in earnings, will likely be favored if they meet there.

"I think we'll get a bit of weight from Remarkable Miss if we end up running against her," said Snow.

Breeding made a difference

Besides the short field in the Distaff, the main reason Snow entered Blue Sky Holiday against fillies and mares instead of running her against 3-year-olds in the Dogwood is that she wasn't eligible to the Dogwood, which was restricted to B.C.-breds only.

A Florida-bred, Blue Sky Holiday could run in the Distaff, which was open to B.C.-owned horses. The seven stakes races on B.C. Cup Day were originally for B.C.-breds only. Because of a shortage of horses in the province, management at Hastings made the decision to open up the three races for older horses in 2006. The breeders in the province were understandably against the decision. Fans at Hastings on Monday were probably glad the move was made.

The four races restricted to B.C.-breds were dominated by heavily favored horses, and each race was pretty much over with by the time they hit the quarter pole. On the other hand, the three races that were open to B.C.-owned horses all had thrilling stretch runs, and the combined total win margin for the three races was three-quarters of a length. The local breeders should take solace, because two of the races were won by B.C.-breds.

El Sinaloense okay after breakaway

One of the easiest winners on B.C. Cup Day was El Sinaloense in the Nursery. His owner-trainer, Juan Olmos, had a scare on Friday morning when El Sinaloense got loose on the track and then ran through the off gap into the backstretch. When a horse leaves the track at Hastings, the first thing he hits is tarmac. Luckily, El Sinaloense, who was in full gear exiting the track, ended up with just a small cut on one of his legs.

"He seems fine," said Olmos. "His race didn't take a lot out of him and he was just too sharp so he got loose from his pony."

Olmos is pointing El Sinaloense to the $50,000 New Westminster on Aug. 24, where he will be a heavy favorite.

According to Pedro Alvarado, who has ridden El Sinaloense in all four of his races, he is the best 2-year-old he has ever been aboard at Hastings.

"He just does everything so easily," said Alvarado. "He's really not trying that hard."

El Sinaloense won the Nursery by six lengths. His time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:16.51. Compare that with the 1:15.91 that And All That Jazz, a 4-year-old gelding, posted in the Sprint, and El Sinaloense appears to have a very bright future.