08/24/2006 11:00PM

Derby Trial crucial to 3 entrants


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - One of the rewards of winning the $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial is a berth in the Grade 3, $250,000 British Columbia Derby. The rest of the derby field is determined by money won this year. With only $15,244 in earnings, the only realistic chance Bound to Be M V P has to get into the derby is to win the 1 1/16-mile Trial, which will be run next Sunday.

Trained by Brian Giesbrecht, Bound to Be M V P was one of the best 2-year-olds at Hastings last year. He won all three of his starts, including the Ladnesian Stakes, then was turned out in July with the usual assortment of 2-year-old problems.

From the way he started out his 3-year-old campaign in Southern California it appeared he would be one of the leading B.C. Derby contenders when he returned to Hastings this summer. He finished third to Too Much Bling in the San Miguel Stakes, then ran a decent race to finish fifth to Too Much Bling again in the Grade 2 San Vicente on Feb. 12. But that was his last start until he ran against older sprinters in the Sun Sprint Championship at Northlands Park on Aug. 7.

"We had a few problems with his feet," said Giesbrecht. "Nothing major but enough to keep him sidelined until recently. He's doing very well right now, though."

Bound to Be M V P ran evenly to finish fourth in the Sun Sprint and he's had two solid works since. He'll be stretching out for the first time in the Trial, but from the way he finished in his one-mile work in 1:39.30 on Wednesday, he should be able to handle the distance.

"I was very pleased with his last work," said Giesbrecht. "He finished strongly and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to get a mile and an eighth. Now if we can just get that get-out-of-jail card by winning the trial."

Luhuk's Dancer is a bit higher on the earnings list with $36,233 banked this year, but that's probably not going to be enough to get him into the derby, either. A lightly raced gelding by Luhuk, Luhuk's Dancer is coming off of a third-place finish in the B.C. Cup Stellar's Jay, and considering it was only his fourth start and his first time going a middle distance, he could take a big step forward in the Derby Trial.

In both of his wins going six furlongs, Luhuk Dancer broke sharply and went right to the front. His trainer, Toni Cloutier, was a bit surprised when he broke sluggishly in the Stellar's Jay.

"I think they sometimes get a little confused when they stretch out for the first time," said Cloutier. "He still ran a good race, and hopefully he'll be better from the experience. He's still pretty green, but he certainly has a lot of talent. What I really like about him is that he's not headstrong at all and that he's a very relaxed horse, so I think he'll get the distance in the derby."

After a slow start in the Stellar's Jay, Luhuk's Dancer got shut off and was shuffled back to eighth and stuck behind a wall of horses. He made a nice move while going wide around the final turn and made up almost two lengths in the stretch. With a better beginning he could be the horse to beat in the Trial.

"He came out of the race in great shape and he's training beautifully right now," said Cloutier. "We're going to give him a good work Sunday, and he should be set to go."

Another horse on the outside looking in is Parkhimonbroadway. Trained by John Snow, Parkhimonbroadway showed a lot of potential as a 2-year-old but he's earned only $2,220 in four starts this year.

A New York-bred, Parkhimonbroadway won a statebred maiden special weight race by over 10 lengths at Saratoga last August, then finished third and second behind Sharp Humour in two stakes races for New York-breds. In his final start as a 2-year-old he finished third to Bluegrass Cat in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26.

He recently arrived at Hastings from Southern California, where he was trained by Roger Stein. Snow is impressed with what he's seen so far.

"I really like this guy," he said. "He acts like a real racehorse, and he seems to like it here. We're going to work him Saturday, and I'm looking forward to running him in the Trial."

In his most recent start, Parkhimonbroadway made a strong middle move but then tired to finish ninth in an $80,000 optional race on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 10.

Trainer Bob Baffert has nominated - but is not necessarily pointing - Point Determined to the B.C. Derby. Point Determined was accidentally put on the list of nominations for the Trial when they were released by the Hastings racing office Thursday.

"It's still too far away, so I don't know if he's coming or not," said Baffert. "Call me back in a week or so and I'll know more about where we're going with him."

Point Determined, who finished second in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in his last start, would be a standout if he happened to run in the B.C. Derby. The odds are probably pretty high against that happening, though.