10/05/2006 11:00PM

Coeur Joie has found his spot


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Coeur Joie couldn't keep up with the top two older horses in Western Canada when he took on True Metropolitan and Spaghetti Mouse in the Sir Winston Churchill Stakes Sept. 24. Nonetheless, he looks like the one to beat in the feature race at Hastings Sunday, a $35,000 optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles which drew a very good field of older horses. Stakes winners Joyride, Steady Smiler, and Commodore Craig are also part of the eight-horse field.

Trained by Mel Snow, Coeur Joie can be brilliant at times. He won the S.W. Randall Plate last year, and he posted a 90 Beyer Speed Figure when he beat Lethal Grande by four lengths in a $50,000 optional claiming sprint July 23. His best race since then was a second-place finish in a similar race Aug. 27, and he ran a pretty dull race to finish eighth in the Churchill.

If he's on his game he has enough tactical speed to stalk what should be an honest pace, and he can be a pretty tough horse when he gets involved early. Mario Gutierrez will ride.

Commodore Craig is making his first start since he finished second in a similar race Aug. 19, when he was claimed for $35,000 by trainer Dino Condilenios. A 7-year-old gelding, Commodore Craig has never won going this far, but he's been stakes-placed five times going around three turns and he and French Roast have the best Beyer Speed Figure at the distance.