05/18/2006 12:00AM

Canterbury: Vazandar one to beat


Eight runners were entered in the 10,000 Lakes, a $40,000 race which serves as Canterbury Park's first stakes of the season for statebred males.

The six-furlong race features the return of Vazandar, a 5-year-old who raced at Tampa Bay Downs this past winter. Trained by Jamie Ness, Vazandar faced such horses as Sir Shackleton, Private Horde, and Purim in three starts at Tampa. Vazandar finished fourth against open company in the Shot of Gold Stakes at Canterbury on opening weekend, but should be favored in the 10,000 Lakes, a race he captured last season.

Canterbury Park chairman Curtis Sampson will be represented by his homebred Lt. Sampson, a 5-year-old grey gelding who defeated Vazandar two seasons back in the Victor S. Myers Jr. Stakes. Lt. Sampson was close to the pace before fading to last in the Shot of Gold two weeks ago and figures to improve in his second start of the season.

There isn't a great deal of early speed entered in the 10,000 Lakes, which suggests Careless Navigator could be a threat to lead from gate to wire. A winner of the Timeless Prince Stakes and Northern Lights Futurity two years ago, Careless Navigator did not make an impact in three starts last season, but the bullets dotting his recent work tab suggest trainer Vic Hanson has gotten the horse back to his best form.

Sir Tricky finished just behind Lt. Sampson and Vazandar in the Myers Stakes two years ago and has made only three starts since that appearance - none last season. Claimed from an optional claiming event at Oaklawn in his first start of the year, Sir Tricky avoided trouble when winning an allowance race that was marred by a three- horse spill on opening day.