09/23/2010 3:36PM

Dearest Princess faces stiff challenge in B.C. Oaks from two shippers


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Local star Dearest Princess could have her hands full when she faces a couple of strong invaders in the $75,000 British Columbia Oaks at Hastings on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile feature attracted a strong field of nine 3-year-old fillies, all of whom will carry 121 pounds. The Oaks heads a nine-race card that includes three supporting stakes.

Dearest Princess will have the home track advantage and figures to be a slight favorite over Northlands Park-based Notoriously and Zenovit, who has made all 10 of her starts at Emerald Downs. Zenovit beat Dearest Princess in the $75,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald on Aug. 14. Gorgeous Goomah, who figures to be a longshot, ships in from Assiniboia Downs off of a second in the Jack Hardy Stakes on Aug. 28.

Trained by Mel Snow, Dearest Princess has won her last three starts in stakes races at Hastings. Following her fourth in the Washington Oaks, she came from well off the pace to capture the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Sept. 6 with her usual rider Fernando Perez aboard. Perez is out for the year with heart problems and Dave Wilson will pick up the mount.

“I haven’t been on her but I have watched her and you can place her anywhere,” said Wilson.

Notoriously, trained by Rod Cone, has dominated the 3-year-old division at Northlands, winning three straight stakes by a combined margin of 15 1/2 lengths. She is coming off of an eight-length romp in the $50,000 Sonoma on Aug. 22, where she battled through honest fractions before pulling away at the quarter pole. The last time she ran at Hastings she finished fourth in a $50,000 optional claiming race on June 6.

“I don’t think the differences in the track surfaces has been the reason she has improved so much,” said Cone. “She ran okay in Vancouver but she was still green and she has really matured since then.”

Trained by Larry Ross, Zenovit has tactical speed and should make good use of it breaking from the rail with Kevin Krigger aboard. She earned a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure for her win in the Washington Oaks and may have bounced when she finished second as the heavy favorite in the restricted John and Kitty Fletcher on Sept. 12.

Stakes winners Wando Woman, first in the CTHS Sales Stakes on Aug. 25, and Otero, second to Dearest Princess in the Hong Kong Jockey Club, are both capable of winning with the right kind of trip.