07/22/2011 1:06PM

Hastings: Cherokee Tear hoping for duel upfront

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Cherokee Tear and Seminole Brave look like the main players in a $35,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up that will serve as Sunday’s feature at Hastings. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint drew six horses, and trainer Robert Gilker and his wife Victoria are hoping Bonboni will help soften up Seminoe Brave enough for Cherokee Tear to run him down late.

The Gilkers treated themselves to a 16th anniversary present when they claimed Cherokee Tear for $5,000 last August. They turned Cherokee Tear out for the remainder of the year, and the time off did him a world of good. In his first start this year, he was the easiest of winners in a $7,500 claiming race for nonwinners of three. He came right back to beat a very tough Riboletto in a $5,000 starter race May 21 and then jumped to beat Bonboni in a $25,000 claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs June 17. In his last start, he had to alter his course at the top of the stretch and was unlucky to lose by a nose to Cherokee Notion in a $35,000 optional claimer.

Bank Emblem, a horse Gilker claimed for $50,000 that went on to win three stakes races for his owners Norma and Leo Shaw, had a lot to do with why they claimed Cherokee Tear.

“He came close to beating Bank Emblem,” Rob Gilker said. “That was good enough for me. He just needed some time off. He has turned out to be one of the best presents we have ever given to each other.”

Pedro Alvarado rides Cherokee Tear.

Cherokee Tear will have to be at his very best to beat Seminole Brave. Trained by Mel Snow, Seminole Brave dueled through quick fractions with Cherokee Notion and held on gamely to finish third, just a neck behind Cherokee Tear. In his previous race, the former stakes winner didn’t have to go as fast early and scored a 1 1/2-length victory over Foxcreek, with Cherokee Notion finishing third.

Once again, Seminole Brave gets in light, with leading apprentice Marlo Dunn riding at 110 pounds.

Bonboni has won three of his four starts at Hastings and is stepping up after being reclaimed by trainer Steve Henson out of a winning race for $17,500 on July 3. Bonboni has good speed, but doesn’t need the lead to win. Richard Hamel will have to make the tough call of deciding whether to go after Seminole Brave right from the start or stalk the classy 7-year-old and hope he comes back to him.