08/22/2001 11:00PM

Breeders say 'thanks' in stakes

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Stakes races are commonly named after a retired or deceased horse. But Saturday's $50,000 Free Vacation Stakes is named for a mare who is still running, and her breeders have put up part of the purse.

The Free Vacation, for 3-year-old fillies, is one of two stakes being run Saturday at Hastings Park. The other is the $35,000 Senate Appointee for fillies and mares. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.

The breeders of Free Vacation, Bill and Susan Stewart of Black Canyon Thoroughbreds, have contributed $20,000 to the Free Vacation purse.

"We just wanted to give back something to the sport," said Bill Stewart. "Owners have paid us good money for our horses and we just wanted to show our appreciation."

Free Vacation won her last start, an allowance race, at Woodbine Aug. 8. A 5-year-old mare, Free Vacation won the 1999 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine, was voted a Sovereign Award that year as Canada's top turf horse, and has earnings of $644,472.

The Free Vacation is restricted to Canadian-breds and looks like a rematch between Catahoula Rose and Lady's Jewel, who finished first and second in the B.C. Stallion Stakes Aug. 5.

In the Senate Appointee, Golden Sparrow makes her second start in North America and first on dirt.

A 3-year-old filly bred in Great Britain, Golden Sparrow won two of her three starts in Great Britain before shipping to Hollywood Park and running eighth in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"She seems to handle the dirt just fine," said her trainer, Cindy Krasner, who is using the Senate Appointee as a prep for the $175,000 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks Sept. 8. "We were considering the Washington Oaks, but after all the shipping around that she's done, we felt it would be better for her to stay at home for a while."

Golden Sparrow will be ridden by Krasner's husband, Sam.

Grooms Derby is the likely favorite in the Senate Appointee.