11/20/2003 1:00AM

Dancewithavixen, Wright in Sovereign hunt


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's usually difficult for a horse or person based in British Columbia to win a Sovereign Award. The best racing in Canada is held at Woodbine in Ontario, and that province has the largest Sovereign Award voting bloc.

But this year may be different. There is not a standout in the 3-year-old filly division at Woodbine, while Dancewithavixen, at Hastings, has compiled an enviable record that could earn her the Sovereign Award in the division.

The leading contender from the East is Too Late Now, who won the Grade 1 Selene and the prestigious, but restricted, Labatt's Woodbine Oaks. But it would be hard to give her the Sovereign Award since she hasn't won since June 8. After her Oaks victory, Too Late Now was third as the odds-on choice in the Bison City at Fort Erie and was beaten by double digits in her next two starts.

Another contender from the East is Winter Garden, who has six wins from nine starts but finished third behind Too Late Now in the Selene, the only time Winter Garden tried to go beyond seven furlongs. She would be the obvious winner if there was a 3-year-old filly sprinter category, but there isn't, and horses who haven't won at a middle distance rarely are recognized as the best of their age group.

Dancewithavixen started 11 times this year, winning eight races - seven of which were stakes - and finishing second twice. She won stakes in May and October, and never sat out a dance all year. She beat an exceptional field in the Ballerina that included Shelby Madison, the top older mare in Western Canada, and eight other stakes winners. Dancewithavixen's earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85 for the 1 1/8-mile Ballerina, higher than the 82 Too Late Now was given for the 1 1/18-mile Oaks. Too Late Now also has never beaten older mares.

Dancewithavixen's owner and trainer, Tom Longstaff, should receive some recognition for keeping her at a peak level for eight months and there's no better way than giving Dancewithavixen the Sovereign Award.

Wright may get Sovereign this time

Another Westerner who deserves Sovereign consideration is jockey Nicky Wright, who lost her bug in August. Wright led the country with wins as an apprentice in 2002, but Chantal Sutherland won the award for the second year in a row, at least partially because she had more wins than Wright when she lost her bug mid-year.

Turnabout is fair play. When Wright lost her bug this year, she was the leading apprentice rider in the country with 40 wins, 12 more than Julia Brimo at the time. Brimo, who rides in Ontario, has since moved ahead in wins by an apprentice, but Wright still leads in total wins - Wright has 102; Brimo has 70. Wright also had, and continues to have, a higher win percentage. She won with 18 percent of her starters as an apprentice and sits at 20 percent for the year. Brimo is obviously a good rider and there's nothing wrong with her 12-percent win average, but it is well below what Wright has posted.

Wright has also won 10 stakes, five as an apprentice, and Brimo is still a maiden in that category. Wright has displayed tremendous skills and is the second leading rider at Hastings. She certainly merits the award, and it will be a shame if she is not recognized with a Sovereign.

Just Another Dream's foals winning

Just Another Dream won't win a Sovereign Award for broodmare of the year, but she deserves an honorable mention for having three of her foals win a race at Hastings last Sunday. Two, Bullseye Bess, and Bullseye Bill, were by On Target. Shoo Fly Willie is by Vying Victor.

"It was a good day for me," said their breeder, Lorne MacDougall, who also owns Bullseye Bess and Bullseye Bill. "She's been a very good mare. All seven of her foals have won. She's currently in foal to Catahoula County, and she also has a weanling by him that looks like a runner."

On Sunday, Bullseye Bess, a 2-year-old filly, won her maiden race for $25,000, while Bullseye Bill won a $35,000 optional race for 3-year-olds. Shoo Fly Willie, a 7-year-old gelding, won his fifth race of the year in a $6,000 optional sprint.