09/24/2006 11:00PM

Halo Steven fights to win B.C. Derby


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Halo Steven, who is trained by Barb Heads, displayed tremendous courage in winning the Grade 3, $348,500 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Sunday.

With Pedro Alvarado aboard, Halo Steven battled with Ok Nothanksforaskn through sprint-like fractions of 22.27 seconds, 45.35, and 1:10.08 and then held off a late bid by Head Chopper to win by a nose, posting a final time of 1:49.96 for the 1 1/8 miles. In a four-horse photo, Ok Nothanksforaskn finished third, a neck behind Head Chopper and a neck in front of the Emerald Derby winner, Raise the Bluff.

The derby victory was the fourth stakes win of the year for Halo Steven, but he was coming off a disappointing effort in the Canadian Derby, where he was pulled up after a mile.

"He just kept going today," said Alvarado. "He got behind a couple of horses in his last race and just kind of gave up."

"I've never had a horse with this much heart," said Heads. "He's never been 100 percent, and for him to win like this is tremendous. When I was looking at the fractions, I was wondering who we were setting the race up for."

According to Head Chopper's jockey, Justin Stein, Head Chopper might have won the race if Stein hadn't dropped his whip at the sixteenth pole.

"He had a perfect trip, and I don't know if it made a difference or not when I dropped the whip, because he never stopped running," Stein said. "I would have liked to have it, but maybe it just wasn't meant to be."

Halo Steven paid $16 to win and earned $189,600 for his owners, Marta Racing Ventures.

In the supporting feature, True Metropolitan beat Spaghetti Mouse by a length in the $55,265 Sir Winston Churchill Handicap. The 1 1/8-mile Churchill was basically a match race between True Metropolitan and Spaghetti Mouse, who was the 6-5 favorite.

Trained by Terry Jordan and ridden by Quincy Welch, True Metropolitan paid $6. The final time for the race was 1:48.75.