07/29/2005 11:00PM

Fillies' rematch the best show on undercard


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The fillies division of the Stallion Stakes could turn out to be the best race on British Columbia Cup Day. The 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old B.C.-bred fillies drew seven horses and features a rematch between Regal Pusher and Slewpast.

Regal Pusher went to the head of the local 3-year-old filly division with a win over Slewpast in the Dikeakos Architects Mademoiselle Handicap on June 17, but by design has not raced since. Slewpast, who finished second by a half-length, came back with an overpowering win in the Liberation on July 16.

Steve Henson is the trainer of Regal Pusher, and he has been pointing the daughter of Regal Intention to this race since the beginning of the meet.

"B.C. Cup Day is my favorite day of the year," said Henson. "Even though Regal Pusher was still a maiden, I was pretty sure she was a stakes filly and this has been our main goal so far. We freshened her up after her last race, and she's come back strong."

Regal Pusher has won all four of her starts this year, including the Emerald Downs Handicap. She will be ridden by Dave Wilson.

Backseat Becka and After the Knight both made good late moves in the Liberation and should improve considerably in their second starts going around three turns.

After the Knight is trained by Lance Giesbrecht, and there's an excellent chance he will be the leading trainer for the day. Giesbrecht will likely saddle three favorites: Alabama Rain in the colts division of the Stallion Stakes, Victor's Secret in the Distaff, and Arizona Drifter in the B.C. Cup Nursery.

Alabama Rain could be the lowest-priced favorite on the card, and it's hard to see anyone putting heat on him. He is coming off a game win over next-out winner Timeless Passion in the Jim Coleman Province on July 3, and besides being a three-time stakes winner, he is the only horse in the race who has won at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Stallion Stakes. He will be ridden by Pedro Alvarado.

Victor's Secret should be a slight favorite over Socorro County in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff, and either Arizona Drifter or Feu Express figure to be the choice in the Nursery.

"I'm hoping for a good day," said Giesbrecht. "They're all coming up to the races in good shape, and hopefully they'll run their races."

The 6 1/2-furlong Sprint goes as the second race and is the first stakes race on the card.

Five Point Star and Salt Grinder figure to battle it out early and could set things up for Commodore Craig, who should be in a stalking position early.

Five Point Star won this race last year, and although he is coming off of a poor performance in the Lieutenant Governors' on July 1, his trainer, Dino Condilenios, likes his chances Monday.

"He might have bounced off of his win in the Herald Gold Plate in Alberta, and it is possible he doesn't want to go 11 furlongs in top company," he said. "We know he can sprint with the best of them, and he's a lot sharper now than he was going into the Lieutenant Governors'.

Salt Grinder ships up from Emerald Downs, where he finished a close fourth in the Old Glory Handicap on July 4. A son of Salt Lake, he was an easy winner of a $40,000 optional race at Emerald on May 1 in his only other start this year.

The Debutante appears to be the most wide-open race of the day. Jittery Julia could go favored off her good third in the Timber Music Stakes on July 9.

Pickin Pale Gold got off to a slow start but finished strongly to win a maiden special weight race July 15.

Excited Miss was an impressive winner of a 3 1/2-furlong maiden special weight July 17 and came back to work a very good five furlongs in 1:01.20 on July 25.