07/09/2003 11:00PM

Caledonia Road highly talented, Milburn warns


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer David Milburn is looking forward to running two 2-year-olds this weekend. He entered Caledonia Road in a 3 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race Saturday, and on Sunday he will saddle Iza's Turn to Star in the first stakes of the meet for 2-year-old fillies, the 6 1/2-furlong $35,000 Timber Music.

While Iza's Turn to Star looked good winning her maiden in her debut and is running in a stakes race, the horse Milburn seems most excited about is Caledonia Road. According to the Hastings clockers, he is by far the fastest 2-year-old on the grounds, and he figures to be a short price when he makes his debut on Saturday.

"We haven't found a horse that can keep up with him," said Milburn. "Iza certainly can't warm him up.

"He's pretty quick but I don't want to get carried away just yet. He's never worked farther than three furlongs, and he is a half-brother to Defend, who was also fast but couldn't carry his speed very far."

Caledonia Road, owned and bred by Milburn and Don Muldoon, has reason to be a good one. He's by Marquetry, out of So Many Slews, who was a hard-knocking, stakes-placed sprinter. She retired with earnings of more than $150,000.

"We were looking for a good stud in the $10,000 to $15,000 range to breed her to," Milburn explained. "We paid for a pedigree and mating analysis from Jack Werk and at that price he recommended Marquetry. At the time we booked the mare, he was standing for $10,000 - but it's gone up since Squirtle Squirt won the Breeders' Cup Sprint. So far, it looks like we made a good decision - but like I said before, all he's done is work fast in the mornings."

He's a trainer - and a lawyer

When Milburn isn't at the racetrack he's often in a courtroom. And by his own admission, he is "a lot better lawyer than a trainer." But he couldn't do both without competent help, particularly at the track.

"I've got a great staff at the track," he said. "Two of them have full-trainer's licenses, and when I get overbooked in court, I feel pretty confident leaving the horses to their hands. Let's put it this way, I have a lot more stress and strain in my law practice than with horseracing. Of course, one pays a lot more than the other."

Milburn, 47, is a fixture on the B.C. Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association and was a president of the national HBPA one year. He likes the way things have turned around at Hastings.

"Right now there's a great relationship between the HPBA and Hastings management," he said. "I think there's a great future in racing here, especially if we get slot machines."

Milburn is expected to speak on behalf of the local HBPA when the Vancouver City Council holds a hearing on the possibility of bringing slot machines to Hastings. The hearing, originally scheduled for July 8, has been moved to July 24.

Vernon Invader ships in from Winnipeg

Alex Murray, who also is a lawyer and trainer, said that last year's B.C. Cup Classic upset winner, Vernon Invader, has arrived in his barn.

"He just shipped in from Winnipeg," said Murray. "He started twice there and both times he ran up the track. According to [owner] Bill Smith, he just didn't like it at Manitoba, so he sent him back here, where he's done pretty well in the past."

Murray wasn't sure when Vernon Invader would make his next start, but he is considering running him in the Classic again.

"We know he likes the distance, and if all is well we'll give him another shot at it," he said.

Vernon Invader won the 1998 B.C. Derby and has earned over a half-million dollars.

o Jockey Fernando Serna worked horses the last few days. He has been out of action since he broke his pelvis in four places May 11 in an accident at the starting gate when a 2-year-old flipped and landed on him. He expects to be back riding, possibly by next weekend.