08/04/2006 11:00PM

Contention runs deep in Classic

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Spaghetti Mouse and True Metropolitan look like the ones to beat in the $100,000 B.C. Cup Classic at Hastings on Monday.

The Classic headlines British Columbia Cup Day, the season's biggest afternoon of racing at Hastings. There has been a change in the format to three of the seven stakes races on the 10-race card. The Classic, Sprint and Distaff have been opened up to horses bred or owned in British Columbia, while the other four stakes remain restricted to B.C.-breds.

The change in format is designed to enable the track to put on a better show for its patrons.

The move certainly paid off for the 1 1/8-mile Classic, which drew eight horses, three more than last year. It's also a much more competitive race this year.

Roscoe Pito, who paid $2.90 when he won last year's Classic, is back to defend his title. He will be the third or fourth choice on Monday. Plus, because it's hard to separate True Metropolitan and Spaghetti Mouse, the Classic shapes up as a good betting race.

Beau Soleil, who finished a close second to probable Sprint favorite Notis Otis in a quickly run allowance race July 14, also appears to have an excellent chance.

True Metropolitan is based at Hastings with trainer Terry Jordan but he has been running in Alberta, where he won two straight stakes. In his last start, True Metropolitan won the Spangled Jimmy by an easy six lengths. According to Jordan, he's coming up to the Classic in a good frame of mind.

"I think it paid off to get his confidence up by running him against easier company in Alberta," said Jordan. "He's a very happy horse and he's just full of himself right now."

Spaghetti Mouse is unpredictable but he can be brilliant when he's in the mood. Trained by Gary Demorest, Spaghetti Mouse has won both times he has gone 1 1/8 miles, with both wins coming in Grade 3 races. He paid $83.60 when he pulled off a stunning upset in the 2005 B.C. Derby and he was 17-1 for his win in the Lieutenant Governors on July 10. Spaghetti Mouse will be ridden by Dave Wilson.

Roscoe Pito and Beau Soleil figure to set a quick pace, which should help a couple of the deep closers, Shacane and Timeless Passion.