06/12/2008 11:00PM

Gilker will try his magic with Yoorock Gal

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Rob Gilker has had a lot of success getting horses to stretch out. A horse he claimed for $4,000, Colonial Secretary, went on to win multiple marathon races, and he also upset Lord Nelson in the Sir Winston Churchill Stakes in 2001. Last year Gilker was able to teach Newton John how to harness his very good speed. Not only did Newton John, who is a confirmed front-runner, win an $8,000 starter race going 1 3/8 miles, he also finished third behind Sir Gallovic and True Metropolitan in the Grade 3 Premiers at that distance.

Gilker is hopeful that Yoorock Gal will be able to carry her speed 1 1/16 miles when she goes around three turns for the first time in the $55,000 Strawberry Morn at Hastings on Sunday.

"Who knows if she'll be able to go that far," said Gilker. "At least it looks like she could be the only speed in the field."

Yoorock Gal is coming off a good second behind Holy Nova in the $53,000 Senate Appointee on May 31. She set the early fractions and then held on well to finish 1 1/2 lengths clear of Wind Storm. In her only try going farther than 6 1/2 furlongs, she finished last in a $50,000 optional race going a mile on the turf at Bay Meadows last November.

"You can pretty much throw the whole experience out," said Gilker. "It was the wrong race at the wrong time for her. Let's just say it was a bad move by her trainer."

Yoorock Gal certainly has the pedigree to get the distance. She is a full sister to Hotenuforyoo, who won the one-mile Ky Alta Stakes at Northland Park in 2005. Hotenuforyoo looked like he was going to be a decent stakes horse, but he never fully recovered after going down in a spill in his next start at Northlands in the Count Lathum Stakes.

"We'll see," Gilker said of Yoorock Gal. "She's training well enough, and as long as she doesn't have to go too fast early she should make a race out of it."

Gilker sounded a little shaken during the interview, which was conducted by telephone Friday morning. He had just pulled off the highway to refuel his truck in Sicamouse, B.C., which is just about the halfway point between Vancouver and Calgary, Alberta. Gilker was hauling Savo Island to Calgary to run in Saturday's Alberta Derby at Stampede Park.

"He just about went down when the truck and van started to fish-tail," Gilker said of Savo Island. "I was near Hope when it happened, and I don't know what caused it. It was pretty scary for a while. He seems okay, though. Hopefully, the rest of the trip will go a little smoother."

Wind Storm takes another shot at distance

According to trainer Dave Forster, Wind Storm had excuses both times she tried to go 1 1/16 miles. Forster is looking for a better performance in the Strawberry Morn. Wind Storm finished just behind Yoorock Gal in the Senate Appointee and also finished third in the six-furlong Brighouse Belles in her initial start this year.

In her last start going 1 1/16 miles, she finished last in the B.C. Cup Dogwood Handicap last August.

"She should have never been allowed to start," said Forster. "She banged her head in the starting gate, and when she came back to the barn there was blood flowing everywhere. I was pretty hot."

Wind Storm also has good speed and figures to be on or near the pace in the Strawberry Morn.

Holy Nova sits this one out

Holy Nova is clearly the star of the local filly and mare division. She easily won the Brighouse Belles and the Senate Appointee, and her trainer, Troy Taylor, was considering running her in the Strawberry Morn. Actually, Taylor had entered Holy Nova in the Strawberry Morn on Thursday morning, but he eventually withdrew the entry.

"After thinking it through it made sense to pass," said Taylor. "She came back a little tired after her last race and she would have had to carry 124 pounds coming back in two weeks. There's another race for her in three weeks, so we'll shoot for that."

Taylor was referring to the Vancouver Sun on July 5.

Destiny's Home seems fine after scary incident

A collective sigh of relief echoed through the grandstand at Hastings last Saturday when Destiny's Home amazingly jumped to her feet after appearing to have broken down in the first race. Destiny's Home was making a strong move in midstretch when she went down hard after clipping heels with Smokin Danielle. It appeared Destiny's Home, who wasn't moving, was dead. When the maintenance crew pulled out a tarp to shield the crowd from what appeared to be a horrifying sight, her trainer, Quint McCabe, feared the worst.

"I was terrified when I saw the tarp go up," said McCabe. "I was just trying to think of what I was going to say to Patty and Mark."

McCabe was referring to Patty and Mark Lesage, who bred and own Destiny's Home.

The crowd on hand seemed to be stunned when Destiny's Home got up and was led off the track by Alex Shamtanis, a close friend of McCabe's who sometimes acts as his assistant trainer. When it became clear Destiny's Home was okay, she received a loud ovation.

"It's incredible," said McCabe. "She didn't have a scratch on her when she came back to the barn. She's the soundest horse I've ever had and she appears to be fine. I'll probably work her this weekend."

Richard Hamel, who was aboard Destiny's Home, took off most of his mounts last Saturday and Sunday. Hamel has been working horses this week and appears to be fully recovered. He is booked to ride a full slate of horses this weekend.