08/05/2011 1:24PM

Hastings: Canadian Derby or Richmond Derby Trial for Commander?


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Trainer Troy Taylor isn’t sure if he is going to ship Commander to Northlands Park for the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby Aug. 20 or keep him at Hastings and run him in the $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial Aug. 14.

Commander was recently purchased by Taylor’s main clients, Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella. A Kentucky-bred colt by Broken Vow, Commander began his career in Delaware where he won a maiden special weight going a mile and 70 yards in his debut, which came for trainer Anthony Dutrow last September. He was moved to Larry Jones’s barn at Oaklawn Park this year and his best race in Arkansas was a win in a first-level allowance race March 31, when he earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. He had a rough trip in the $100,000 Northern Spur at Oaklawn and then moved back to Delaware with trainer Steve Hobby where he ran twice – a failed try on grass June 8 and a second in a $50,000 optional race June 28.

The original plan for his new connections was to run him in the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby, but he arrived at Hastings in less-than-perfect condition.

“Getting him here was the problem,” said Taylor. “I think he flew out of New York and then stopped over in Memphis. The plane supposedly had to circle for a couple of hours before it could land and then he got stuck on the tarmac where it was over 100 degrees. He was a little dehydrated more than anything when he arrived here, so he was set back a little. I’m not sure if we want to go a mile and three-eighths with him after he missed a bit of training.”

Taylor, who is at Del Mar where he has a win from three starts, was at Hastings to oversee Commander’s bullet six-furlong move in 1:12.20 last Monday.

“It was a good work for him,” said Taylor. “Really, we just haven’t made up our mind on which way to go.”

Assistant trainer Mel Beveridge is minding the store while Taylor is in Del Mar and he was happy with the way Commander came out of the work.

“He is doing fine and he trains like a good horse,” said Beveridge. “If we could have got a race into him this weekend we probably would have gone to Northlands for sure, but the race didn’t fill. I just talked to Glen and he is still on the fence about which way to go.”

Commander is a large horse and he surprised jockey Mario Gutierrez with how well he handled the turns at Hastings.

“I have only worked him twice, so I can’t say I know him that well,” said Gutierrez. “But he did impress me in his work last Monday. He is a big horse and he stayed right on the rail when he went around the turns.”

If Commander runs in the Canadian Derby he will be facing Inhisglory, who won a close one over Freedoms Traveller in the Count Lathum at Northlands last weekend.

Inhisglory was one of three horses trainer Craig MacPherson shipped to Northlands who won last Saturday. MacPherson won a one-mile maiden special weight race with Tommy D’Horsey and a $40,000 optional race with Belle Evangeline. Richard Hamel rode all three, and they are going to stay at Northlands.

Tommy D’Horsey will take a shot at the Canadian Derby, and Belle Evangeline will be a major player in the $50,000 Sonoma for 3-year-old fillies, which is part of the derby undercard.

Tommy D’Horsey has started only three times and MacPherson thinks he has a lot of upside potential. He was coming off a strong race in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race at Hollywood Park July 10 and he easily handled his overmatched foes at Northlands in his first try going around three turns.

“He figures to improve the most,” said MacPherson. “He ran real well and he is certainly under consideration for the Canadian Derby. They all came out of their races in great shape.”

Trainer Tracy McCarthy didn’t fare as well with Overvalued, who was supposed to run in the Northlands Oaks last Sunday.

“She came down with a temperature of 102 and that was that,” said McCarthy. “We’ll bring her back and point her to the next stakes here.”

Overvalued won the Supernaturel July 3 and will be one of the favorites in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Aug. 26.

Minimum purse payout proposed

A proposal to pay a minimum of $600 per starter at Hastings is before the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s board and if it agrees to the proposal the purse increase will go into effect this weekend. The board was scheduled to meet and vote on the proposal Saturday.

“As you know there is a horse shortage here,” said Glen Todd, who is a member of the B.C. Horse Racing Industry Management Committee. “We are trying to keep horses here and hopefully attract new ones.”

A shortage of horses combined with a virus circulating through the backstretch caused Hastings to cancel Friday’s card when not enough horses were entered.