07/18/2008 12:00AM

Distance might level playing field


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Handicappers will have to make a tough choice Sunday in the 1 1/16-mile second-level optional claiming feature. They must decide between the proven stakes horse Shacane, who has won four of his six starts going 1 1/16 miles, or Seminole Brave, who has been brilliant in his last two starts but has never raced beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

Throw in the multiple route stakes winner Ookashada, plus the sprinter Enforcement, and you have an excellent race. The race has a $50,000 claiming option, and drew seven horses.

Seminole Brave will likely be favored off his impressive 9 3/4-length win over Regal Isolation going 6 1/2 furlongs in a first-level allowance race on July 1. Trained by Mel Snow, Seminole Brave forced the pace, took the lead at the quarter pole, and kept widening his margin. He has improved dramatically in his last two starts, and if he can carry his speed around three turns, he will be very tough to beat.

Seminole Brave will likely be under pressure from Enforcement right out of the starting gate, however, and it remains to be seen if he will be able to handle the expected late moves of Shacane and Chile’s Quest. Seminole Brave will be ridden by Fernando Perez.

Shacane, a 9-year-old who is trained by Shauna Ferguson, took a big step forward in his second start this year, finishing fifth in the $106,000 Lieutenant Governors on July 1. In 2007 he came from off the pace to win the $107,000 B.C. Cup Classic in his third start of the year.