09/28/2005 11:00PM

Getting stuck in traffic a blessing in disguise for Spaghetti Mouse

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The connections of nearly every horse involved in last Saturday's Grade 3 British Columbia Derby were hoping for a clean trip. Trainer Gary Demorest, however, said he felt that Spaghetti Mouse, who has a tendency to run off in his races, might be better off if he got stuck in traffic.

Demorest got his wish and the result was a convincing 3 1/2-length win over 31-1 shot Bull Ranch. Spaghetti Mouse paid $85.60 as the longest shot on the board.

"He got exactly what he needed," said Demorest. "He had horses in front, behind, and beside him, so he couldn't run off. He wanted to run off, but he had no choice. It was either run over horses or just sit there and wait until it was time to run. Put this horse in a six-horse field next time and it wouldn't surprise me if he got beat."

"I was a little worried going around the first turn," said Spaghetti Mouse's rider, Dave Wilson. "He was starting to pick his head up and I thought, 'Uh oh, here we go again.' But I had galloped him a few times and found out that if you could confuse him by dropping the lines, he would relax. Once he dropped in behind the other horses, he was just cruising around there, and he just smoked 'em in the stretch."

Spaghetti Mouse has been a project for Demorest all year. A B.C.-bred colt by Archers Bay, Spaghetti Mouse has certainly shown that he has the talent to be a top horse. Going into the derby he was a stakes winner and had been stakes-placed three times, so the win price has to be considered a huge overlay. But Spaghetti Mouse's single-mindedness had cost him on more than one occasion, and that's probably the reason he was such a long price. Demorest had tried blinkers, taken them off, and put them back on. In his race prior to the derby, the Richmond Derby Trial, Spaghetti Mouse ran without blinkers and appeared to relax more than usual while finishing a good second to Appearance Fee.

"It has been one step at a time," said Demorest. "And it hasn't always been one step forward. You just try to get your best 3-year-old as good as you can and hopefully have him on his game on the right afternoon of the year. That was the right afternoon of the year."

Demorest wasn't sure where Spaghetti Mouse will run next. There aren't any more stakes races restricted to 3-year-olds at the meet, and the only added-money event for 3-year-olds and up left on the schedule is the 1 3/8-mile Premiers on Oct. 16.

"I don't really want to try him against older horses going that far," said Demorest. "But since it's the only place we can run him here, we will certainly consider it."

For Demorest, Wilson, and the owners of Spaghetti Mouse, Nick and Pauline Felicella, it was their first B.C. Derby win.

Spaghetti Mouse earned $209,250 for the win and increased his career earnings to $305,234.

Ballerina next target for Monashee

Trainer Tracy McCarthy reported that the lone filly in the B.C. Derby, Monashee, came out of the race in good shape. Monashee will make her next start in the $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup. She finished ninth in the derby after forcing the pace for six furlongs.

McCarthy might have been disappointed with Monashee's race, but she was happy with the way Notis Otis won the $53,603 Hastings Sophomore. Notis Otis was the local 2-year-old champ but didn't have enough earnings this year to get into the derby.

In the supporting feature, Flamethrowin-texan ($5.80) made a triumphant return to Hastings with a front-running win in the Sir Winston Churchill. It was the first time Flamethrowintexan had raced at Hastings since he won the 2004 B.C. Derby.

Flamethrowintexan is trained by Jim Penney and was ridden by Ricky Frazier.

According to assistant trainer Kay Cooper, Flamethrowintexan will be nominated to the Premiers.

"Ricky thinks he will go that far, so there's a good chance we will be back," she said.

Interestingly enough, Flamethrowintexan's final time of 1:49.74 for the 1 1/8 miles was a shade slower than the 1:49.30 Spaghetti Mouse posted for his win in the derby. At 126 pounds, Spaghetti Mouse was also carrying six more than Flamethrowintexan.

Ex-trainer's license revoked

Steve Bryant, who was the leading trainer at Hastings in 2000, has had his trainer's license withdrawn by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of British Columbia.

Until recently, Bryant was the racing manager for Ross McLeod, CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the parent company of Hastings Entertainment Inc. Acting on behalf of McLeod, Bryant purchased General John B, who finished second in the Santa Anita Derby, and Gotaghostofachance, who will start in the Grade 2 Goodwood Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Neither the stewards at Hastings nor officials from GPEB would give a reason for the cancellation of Bryant's license.

* Local country music stars will be on hand at Hastings on Saturday to help raise funds for horse racing industry hurricane victims. Rick Tippe, Kenny Hess, and Ken McCoy head the all-star lineup. Also, the B.C. Thoroughbred Industry is going to contribute $60,000, and fans at Hastings can do their part by supporting a special 50-50 drawing.