10/07/2004 11:00PM

Forster oversees trio of Ballerina contenders


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Full, competitive fields are expected in both the $150,000 Ballerina next Saturday and the $100,000 Premiers on Sunday.

There is a very good chance that the Ballerina winner is stabled in trainer David Forster's shedrow. Forster will saddle the one-two finishers in the Grade 3 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks, Summer Symphony and Socorro County, and also bedded down in his barn is Aunt Sophie, the top older filly or mare at Emerald Downs. Aunt Sophie is trained by Charles Barth, who shipped her up to Forster after her win in Belle Roberts on Sept. 19.

"She's been up here with me for a couple of weeks now, but she'll run under Mr. Barth's name in the Ballerina," said Forster. "She's a pretty nice horse, and she seems perfectly happy to be here.

"She handles the track fine, and that was a pretty good work she had last weekend," he said, referring to Aunt Sophie's five-furlong move in 59.80 seconds Oct. 2, the second best time of the day.

The Ballerina will be the second time Aunt Sophie has been to Hastings. She finished fifth in the 2001 B.C. Oaks against a pretty tough field. The winner, Collect Call, placed in both the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks. The second-place finisher, Inish Glora, went on to become the champion turf filly or mare in Canada last season. Inish Glora was also the leading candidate for that honor this year and has total earnings of close to $1 million.

Of course, Forster is hoping his two fillies can beat Aunt Sophie, and they certainly appear to have a big chance. Socorro County has yet to run a bad race; she has never been worse than third and was probably best in the Oaks but didn't get as good a trip as Summer Symphony.

"They're both nice fillies," Forster said. "Summer Symphony hasn't been as consistent, but she's had excuses in a couple of the races where it looks like she didn't fire. They're both coming into the race in great shape, and they should run their race."

Forster has won the Ballerina four times, and his record of three wins in a row with Magic Code will be tough to match.

'Texan' to Lone Star

B.C. Derby winner Flamethrowin-texan, who is trained by Jim Penney, tops the list for the Premiers, but he is headed to Lone Star to run in the $250,000 Lone Star Derby on Oct. 29.

"We thought that a mile and three-eighths might be a bit too far for him," said assistant trainer Kay Cooper. "We're going to run Mr. Makah in the Premiers instead. He's more of a plodder, and he should get the distance."

Mr. Makah hasn't won a stakes, but he did finish third in the Longacres Mile on Aug. 22.

"We worked him here last Monday, and he really handled the track well," said Cooper. "He's not much of a work horse, so the time [1:04.40] wasn't very fast. We'll work him one more time before the race."

Royal Place, who will be trained by Harold Barroby, could be the favorite. He beat Lord Nelson in the Lieutenant Governors the last time he ran here and then had rough trips in both the Longacres Mile and the Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational at Fairplex on Sept. 26. A Florida-bred, Royal Place arrived at Hastings on Thursday night.

"He's very sharp despite the long van ride up," said Barroby on Friday morning. "I wasn't planning to send him out, but since he's so sharp I guess I'll gallop him this morning."

Royal Place ran in the Premiers last year, but he broke poorly and, according to Barroby, was stopped at the top of the stretch when he was making what could have been a winning move.

"I was pretty sure he would have won if he had a clean trip, so I'm not worried about him getting the distance," said Barroby. "I thought Nicky [Wright] made the right move by trying to go between horses, but the hole closed, and that was that."

Barroby also said that leading rider Pedro Alvarado would ride Royal Place in the Premiers.

Other notables nominated and expected to run in the Premiers are Beau Brass, winner at Northlands of his last two races, including the $100,000 Speed to Spare on Sept. 11, and Shacane, who won the 2002 Premiers and was the runner-up to Metatron in the Sir Winston Churchill.

Metatron has also been nominated, as have B.C. Cup Classic winner Illusive Force and B.C. Derby runner-up Lord Samarai.