06/19/2013 2:52PM

Hastings: Bluegrass Pride has options ahead of British Columbia Derby

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Trainer Craig MacPherson is trying to figure out the best way to get Bluegrass Pride to the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby in peak shape. The most important race at Hastings won’t be run until Sept. 8, but early nominations closed last Saturday with 46 horses.

Bluegrass Pride was very impressive in winning his second straight race going 1 1/16 miles last Saturday, and the manner in which he won has MacPherson thinking he has an excellent chance of winning the B.C. Derby for the second straight year. Last year, MacPherson won his first B.C. Derby with Second City, who was purchased by Peter Redekop just a few weeks prior to the 1 1/8-mile feature.

MacPherson has been high on Bluegrass Pride since the Pennsylvania-bred son of Bluegrass Cat arrived at Hastings last winter. He raced at Woodbine as a 2-year-old and was claimed out of a $40,000 maiden race Dec. 8. He is owned by Leo and Norma Shaw, who race under the stable name L.D.S. Enterprises Ltd.

In his first two starts sprinting here, he finished second, but he shined when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in a maiden special weight race May 26, winning by 4 1/4 lengths and earning a 69 Beyer Speed Figure. With that experience behind him, he improved dramatically in his second route attempt, coasting home to beat a solid field of allowance horses in 1:43.67. His Beyer jumped to 81, and he will be among the favorites when he makes his next start in the $50,000 Chris Loseth Stakes on July 1.

“He really turned a corner in his last two races,” MacPherson said. “It is very pleasing.”

MacPherson was looking at maps and stakes books from Northlands Park and Emerald Downs while trying to decide where to run Bluegrass Pride after the Loseth. Not being a British Columbia-bred, Bluegrass Pride isn’t eligible to the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay on Aug. 5. If he runs well in the Loseth, the next opportunity for him here is the Derby Trial on Aug. 18.

The $50,000 Count Lathum at Northlands on July 27 caught MacPherson’s attention.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet, but we could run him in the Count Lathum and keep him there for the Canadian Derby,” MacPherson said. “I haven’t had much luck going to Northlands, coming back to Hastings, and then going back again, so I think we would just let him stay there if we decide the Canadian Derby is on the agenda.”

The Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby will be contested over 1 3/8 miles Aug. 17.

“A mile and three-eighths is a tough distance, but the way he gallops at a pretty high rate, I don’t think there are any limitations on how far he’ll go,” MacPherson said.

MacPherson said his main concern with the Canadian Derby is the timing of the race.

“It’s just three weeks between the Canadian Derby and our derby, and it would be nice if there was at least another week between the two races,” he said.

No blinkers for Go for Guinness

Go for Guinness ran a big race to finish second behind Bluegrass Pride in his first route attempt last Saturday. He set very fast fractions and held on well in the stretch with Frank Fuentes aboard. It was the first time this year that Go for Guinness wore blinkers, and his trainer, Dave Forster, said they will be coming off when he makes his next start, which likely will be in the Loseth.

“Let’s just call it trainer error,” Forster said. “I listened to Frank, who said he needed them. He beat Bluegrass Pride coming from off the pace without them, and every time I put them on a horse, they get all wound up and run off like that.”

Forster recalled not taking the advice given to him from local Hall of Fame jockey Sam Krasner, who kept telling him to put blinkers on Tucumcari, a multiple stakes winner who earned $364,978 from 1995-98.

“In one of her races, she spotted a semi-trailer they had put up at the end of the grandstand, and she almost propped when she saw it coming into the stretch,” Forster said. “She still won the race, but Sam kept telling me she has to have blinkers, she has to have blinkers. Instead of making the equipment change, I put Danny Brock on her instead.”

With Brock riding her without blinkers, Tucumcari went on to win six stakes races.

Condilenios debuts two juveniles

The most interesting race on Friday’s seven-race card is a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds that drew nine horses and goes as the fourth race. It is the first six-furlong race for 2-year-olds at the meet, and a couple of horses owned by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. and trained by Dino Condilenios might be worth a look.

According to Condilenios, Architecture, a filly by Dixie Chatter, is the quicker of the two out of the gate, but he thinks Goliath will be a better horse in the long run.

“If she breaks out of the gate like she does in the mornings, she’ll be in front,” Condilenios said of Architecture. “I think Goliath is a better horse, but he might need a start to really figure things out. It looks like there are a few in there that can run.”

Deviance is the only horse in the field who has had a race, and he ran well, finishing second while going 3 1/2 furlongs in a maiden special weight race May 20.

The Troy Taylor trainee drew the rail and figures to be favored with Aaron Gryder retaining the mount.