10/07/2010 2:18PM

Four big stakes, but news isn't all good


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Hastings will close its 2010 season with a bang and a whimper.

Four stakes races with full fields highlight the weekend, including Saturday’s Grade 3 Ballerina and Sunday’s Grade 3 Premiers, which each drew the maximum 12 horses. Monday’s Jack and Sadie Diamond Futurities close Friday, and by Thursday morning there were 12 colts and geldings entered in the Jack Diamond Futurity and nine fillies in the Sadie Diamond.

But there is also a shortage of purse money to close out the meet. Excluding the stakes, the top purse being offered over the final three days of racing will be $7,300 regardless of the conditions of the race. Because most of the upper claiming and allowance horses have either been turned out or have shipped to other tracks, a lot of the races are bottom-level claiming races, and their purses aren’t affected. The third race Saturday, however, a $20,000 maiden race for 2-year-olds, is one example where the shortage hurts. It would normally be worth $12,400.

Nonetheless, most of the races carded will feature full fields, and Monday will see the return of Russell Baze. Baze won the Ascot Graduation aboard Too Much Dirt on Sept. 26, and he will be riding him in the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity. Baze also picked up the mount on Love Logic in the Sadie Diamond, also worth $100,000.

Kicking off the weekend is the Grade 3 Ballerina, which drew a very good field of fillies and mares. Among them is Kimmyv, who will be trying to prove her upset win over Summer Song in the Emerald Distaff was no fluke. Trained by Dino Condilenios, she has started only twice in the Pacific Northwest and despite being based at Hastings, both of her races were at Emerald Downs. In her first start in Seattle she finished fourth as the favorite in the Boeing Handicap before her strong performance in the Distaff. She skipped the 1 1/8-mile Delta Colleen, won by Summer Song on Sept. 25, and comes into the Ballerina off of a seven-week layoff.

“She has a few issues,” Condilenios said. “She needs time between her races and we’ve been aiming for this race since she won the Distaff.”

A 4-year-old, Kimmyv has won five of her eight starts, and she seems at home on any surface. She won three races over a synthetic surface at Santa Anita before romping in a seven-furlong first-level allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 6. She handled the speed-favoring Emerald surface, but Saturday’s race will be her first trip around three turns. Further complicating matters, she drew post position 11.

“She has trained well here, and I’m not too worried about her running over a bull ring for the first time,” Condilenios said. “I’m very concerned about her post position, though.”

Kimmyv has shown good speed in all of her races but doesn’t need the lead to win. Condilenios said he is hoping jockey Chad Hoverson will use her tactical speed to avoid a wide trip.

“It’s a rider’s race,” he said. “There is a lot of other speed in the field, and hopefully, Chad can get her into a good position early and then let the chips fall where they may.”

One of the horses expected to be battling for the early lead is Emerald-based Sweet Nellie Brown. A 3-year-old filly, Sweet Nellie Brown has won her last two races at Emerald. Trainer Jim Penny decided to give her a shot in the Ballerina after seeing how easily she won a one-mile allowance race Sept. 25. It was the first time she had gone longer than 6 1/2 furlongs in her eight-race career. Penny’s daughter and assistant trainer, Kay Cooper, accompanied Sweet Nellie Brown to Hastings.

“She is really improving, and she ran with a lot of confidence when she stretched out to a mile,” Cooper said. “She’s been kind of an underachiever. She can be a bit of a problem child, but once you get her to the track she is all class.”

Dancewithavixen, Taylor make Hall

Dancewithavixen and trainer Troy Taylor were voted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame last week.

Dancewithavixen won 12 of her 24 starts for earnings of $496,039. She won the Grade 3 Ballerina as a 3-year-old in 2003 and closed her career with a 7 1/2-length win in the B.C. Cup Distaff as a 4-year-old. Trained by Tom Longstaff throughout her career, Dancewithavixen won 11 stakes and compiled a 12-6-3 record from 22 starts at Hastings.

Taylor, 79, has been the leading trainer at Hastings four times. He won his first title in 1963 and then three years in a row beginning in 2007. He holds a 46-44 lead over Craig MacPherson at the current meet.

No date or place has been set for the annual awards dinner, where Dancewithavixen and Taylor will be inducted.