05/19/2005 12:00AM

Canterbury: Vazandar favored


Eight colts and geldings were entered for the 10,000 Lakes Stakes, a $40,000 stakes that is Canterbury Park's first added-money event of the season for statebreds.

Conspicuous by his absence will be Crocrock, the state champion sprinter who won this event twice and was never worse than second in the last four runnings of the 10,000 Lakes. Crocrock sustained a fatal injury when prepping for this race at Prairie Meadows last month.

The favorite in the six-furlong 10,000 Lakes should be Vazandar, the winner of the unrestricted Shot of Gold Stakes, Canterbury's opening-day feature. Vazandar fashioned a major reputation for himself last season when he bested open company in the Come Summer Stakes, then shipped to Iowa to capture the Iowa Stallion Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths. Vazandar has a pronounced off-the-pace style that saw him make up six lengths in the last quarter-mile of the Shot of Gold. Regular rider Seth Martinez takes the call for trainer Mac Robertson.

Curt Sampson, Canterbury Park's chairman, owns one horse and parts of two others in the field. Lt. Sampson, who beat Vazandar in last year's Victor S. Myers Jr. Stakes, will race uncoupled. Lt. Sampson ran evenly and finished fourth in his first start of the year in the Shot of Gold but should improve in this event, where the early pace should prove less taxing. Derek Bell is his regular rider.

Sampson and partner Wally McNeil also entered Wally's Choice, who is coupled with Timberwolf Power. A winner of last season's Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, Wally's Choice defeated optional claiming foes at Prairie Meadows earlier this month. Martin Escobar has the call for trainer Mike Biehler.