09/04/2003 12:00AM

Bold 'n Keen flourishes on diet of all sprints

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Robert VanOverschot started out the 2003 racing season with particular goals for certain horses in his barn. While his plan for Illusive Force to run in the Queen's Plate and come back to Hastings for the British Columbia Derby didn't pan out, his sprint-only schedule for Bold 'n Keen has worked out perfectly.

Bold 'n Keen figures to be a solid favorite when he runs in Saturday's Hastings Sprint.

After Bold 'n Keen won his maiden by 12 1/2 lengths it looked like he was going to be one of the leaders of the 3-year-old division at Hastings last year. He never won another race in 2002, however. In two subsequent starts, going a middle distance, he basically pulled himself up going around the second turn. Bold 'n Keen came close in a couple of $50,000 optional sprints and did finish third in the Richmond Derby trial, but after such a dazzling display of talent in his maiden win, the rest of the year had to be a major disappointment to his connections.

Bold 'n Keen has made up for it this year. He beat Commodore Craig and Lord Nelson in the Hong Kong Jockey Club and he ran the best race of his career in the B.C. Cup Sprint, beating Celt by 1 1/2 lengths in a very fast 1:15.83 for 6 1/2 furlongs. His 98 Beyer Figure for that race is the best he has earned since he posted a 92 in his maiden win.

According to VanOverschot, Bold 'n Keen should run his race Saturday but we won't see him again until next year.

"He's had a good year so we'll just turn him out following the race Saturday," he said. "It's worked out so well that we'll probably turn around and do the same thing with him next year. I really don't see any need to try and stretch him out right now."

Stratoplan may make B.C. Derby

VanOverschot hasn't given up on running Stratoplan in the British Columbia Derby on Sept. 21. Stratoplan would likely have been favored in the Emerald Derby on Labor Day but he hurt himself in his stall and missed too much training to run.

"I think he can still make it," VanOverschot said. "We'll know more about it in the next few days."

Stratoplan will certainly be among the favorites if he makes the derby. VanOverschot will also saddle one of the choices in the Jack Diamond Futurity on Sept. 14. Lord Samarai has won 2 of his 3 starts, all in stakes races, and had an excuse when he broke slowly in the B.C. Cup Nursery.

"He came out of his last race in good shape," said VanOverschot. "I'm looking forward to running him in the Futurity."

Roscoe Pito impressive at Emerald

Roscoe Pito, who is trained by John Snow, was so impressive winning the Emerald Downs Derby that he could be the favorite in what is shaping up as an excellent field for the B.C. Derby. His final time of 1:47.60 was good, but his final eighth of a mile in 12 seconds was exceptional for a 3-year-old going nine furlongs.

Sam Krasner, who was aboard for the win, was impressed.

"He's getting better and better," Krasner said. "He has a tremendous amount of talent and he's still learning."

Krasner was pleasantly surprised that Roscoe Pito was allowed to set his own pace, and going into the first turn, he was pretty confident about the outcome.

"He was just galloping along so easily that I actually told him that there was no way they were going to beat us today," Krasner said. "He's going to make a very good 4-year-old."

Roscoe Pito will have plenty of company on the front end in the B.C. Derby. Taiaslew, who won the Alberta Derby and finished second in both the Canadian and Manitoba derbies, arrived at Hastings this week and is bedded down in Tom Longstaff's shed row. He also has plenty of speed and, like Roscoe Pito, likes to use it early. He's trained by Greg Tracy, who plans to arrive on Sunday to supervise a planned workout.

"Hopefully I'll make it by Sunday," said Tracy. "If not I'll definitely be there for the sale Tuesday."

Tracy was referring to the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling and mixed sale, which begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley.

Tracy also said that the leading rider at Northlands Park, Quincy Welch, has picked up the mount on Taiaslew for the B.C. Derby.