07/21/2010 2:54PM

Ganbei surprised everyone in Randall Plate


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A last-minute decision by trainer Mel Snow to run Ganbei in the $52,000 S. W. Randall Plate last Sunday at Hastings resulted in a pleasant surprise when Ganbei came from last to nip pacesetter Burj Dubai in the final stride. Most surprised was his rider, Mario Gutierrez, who hadn’t ridden Ganbei since they teamed to win a $12,500 claiming race last year.

“I didn’t think he was going to run anything like that,” Gutierrez said. “He ran a big race, and luckily, we got there just in time.”

Snow was originally thinking of skipping the Randall and bringing Ganbei back for the B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 2, but he said he reconsidered when he heard Teide wasn’t going in the Randall. In his previous start, Ganbei finished third to Teide in the Lieutenant Governors on July 1.

“I wasn’t going to chase Teide around again, and I figured my horse was as good as any of the other horses nominated,” he said.

In the Randall, Ganbei was last most of the way, trailing by as many as 11 1/2 lengths, as Burj Dubai set fractions of 23.60, 46.74, and 1:11.13. Ganbei rallied four wide in the stretch before catching Burj Dubai at the wire.

“I didn’t mind seeing the fast splits when he was trailing the field early,” Snow said. “Mario gave him a great ride, and he couldn’t have timed his move any better.”

Snow said Ganbei came out of the race in excellent shape and will be pointed to the B.C. Cup Classic.

“It worked out perfectly,” Snow said. “I was going to have to work him a few times before the Classic. Instead, he got the money, and now we can look forward to running him on B.C. Cup Day.”

Burj Dubai suffered his first defeat in the Randall, but it didn’t alter trainer Dino Condilenios’s plans to run him in the Grade 2, $250,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 22.

“He came out of the race super, and if he can get enough weight to get into the Mile we would like to run him there,” Condilenios said. “He still has a lot to learn, but going a mile, he still might be able to run off a bit in the middle part of the race.”

Burj Dubai was stretching out to a middle distance for the first time, and he broke a lot better than he did in his first two sprints. It didn’t take long before he was cruising on the lead with Pedro Alvarado aboard. He looked comfortable during the first quarter, but he really picked things up when Seminole Brave tried to put some pressure on him on the second turn.

“When that other horse came up behind him he really started to roll,” Condilenios said. “When I saw the half-mile time I started looking at my other horse. He ran a huge race, though, and Pedro said if Ganbei had gotten to him earlier he felt he had enough horse to fight back. He just didn’t have time to respond when he stuck his nose in front just before the finish.”

The other horse Condilenios was referring to was Lowether Street, who made a late move to finish third. A Kentucky-bred, Lowther Street isn’t eligible to run on B.C. Cup Day, and Condilenios said he wasn’t sure where he would make his next start.

“We’re also pointing Teide to the Mile so we’ll keep Lowether Street here and if nothing fills for him we’ll probably take him to Northlands,” said Condilenios.

Condilenios mentioned the $50,000 Westerner on Aug. 7 and the $75,000 Speed to Spare, Aug. 21, as possible races for Lowether Street.

Gutierrez off to ride at Northlands

Gutierrez isn’t named on any horses at Hastings on Friday, and after Sunday, the next time he will ride at Hastings is on B.C. Cup Day. He is headed to Northlands to work Holy Nova on Friday and will also ride Shem in the $50,000 Don Fleming Handicap on Saturday. After returning to Hastings to ride Sunday, Gutierrez will head to Del Mar with trainer Troy Taylor who is taking four horses there for a working vacation.

“Wherever Troy goes, Mario follows,” said Glen Todd, who owns a piece of all four horses.

“They are bred to run on the grass, so we want to see how they run on the turf,” Taylor said. “We’re taking Motel Stroll, Afleet Deal, El Cugat, and Bred Royal.”

Through Wednesday, Taylor led the trainer at Hastings with 29 wins.

◗ The B.C. Horse Racing Management Committee is hosting an open forum to discuss the future of racing in British Columbia on Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. at the Red Robinson Theatre. The theatre is located in the Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver. Anyone interested in joining the discussion should send an e-mail to eugene.johnson@gov.bc.ca.