04/30/2009 11:00PM

Break figures key in stakes


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Heaven on Hold holds the key to how the Brighouse Belles will unfold at Hastings Sunday. The $50,000 feature will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs, and all six of the horses entered have won a sprint at least once. Nonetheless, most would appear to want more distance.

If Heaven on Hold breaks as poorly as she did in her initial start at the meet, Littlemiss Allison will likely find herself alone on the lead and will prove tough to catch. If Heaven on Hold leaves there running, the likely duel will bring the rest of the field into the picture.

Troy Taylor, who trains Heaven on Hold and another Brighouse Belles entrant, Lady Raj, expects Heaven on Hold to be on or near the lead.

"She's fast," said Taylor. "And there is some quality to her."

Heaven on Hold used her good speed to win a $50,000 stakes race at Golden Gate last year. She is versatile, however. She came from off of the pace in a $50,000 optional race for her only win at Hastings in 2008.

Fernando Perez rides Heaven on Hold.

Lady Raj has absolutely no speed and will need help from her stablemate in order to be a factor. Lady Raj came from well off the pace to win a couple of 1 1/16-mile stakes races last year, the $57,000 Strawberry Morn and $51,000 Vancouver Sun.

"Don't count her out," said Taylor. "She's a pretty sharp horse right now."

Mario Gutierrez, who didn't ride last weekend due to an injury, will ride Lady Raj.

According to trainer John Snow, Blue Sky Holiday is also coming up to her first start of the year in excellent shape. Blue Sky Holiday won five races and earned $153,446 in 2008. Her biggest win came in the Grade 3 B.C. Oaks.

Littlemiss Allison will likely be on the lead. She is capable of stalking, however. She came from slightly off the pace to win the one-mile Freedom of City at Northlands and the Houston Oaks at Sam Houston.

Against the Sky won six races in a row, including the Grade 3 Ballerina last year. But she hasn't won a sprint since 2005. She had her six-race win streak snapped when she finished third in a six-furlong $75,000 optional race on April 19.

Bears Swan runs well fresh. She won a 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Northlands Park in her initial start of 2008.