09/16/2011 2:16PM

Hastings: Ebony N Ice no cinch on drop down


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There are still spots available for Sunday’s qualifying tournament for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, which will be held in Las Vegas in January. If all 150 spots are filled, the winner of the tournament at Hastings will receive $10,800 and the first four finishers also will secure spots in the NHC, where first prize is expected to be $1 million.

One of the designated races will be the sixth race at Hastings, and contestants will have to decide if they want to take a short price on Ebony N Ice or bet against her.

Trained by Toni Cloutier, Ebony N Ice should be favored in the $7,500 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles that drew nine horses, but she is certainly no cinch. She is dropping after finishing third going 6 1/2 furlongs for $12,500 on Sept. 5, and her only win going around three turns was in the $103,000 Fantasy Stakes as a 2-year-old in 2009. Since then, she has won just once, and it came in a $7,500 nonwinners of three in her first start of the year.

Mario Gutierrez, tied with Richard Hamel for leading rider going into the weekend, rides Ebony N Ice.

Include the Grand will be attractive to contestants that need to make up some ground. The Dave Milburn trainee has the look of strictly being a sprinter, but she has won five times at the distance. She was involved right from the start in all of her route wins. In order to win Sunday, she will probably need to sit just off Grannie Greene who has good speed and gets in light with apprentice Marnie Williams riding.

Include the Grand is coming off a third-place finish in a $7,500 claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 24 and will be stretching out to a middle distance for the first time this year.

Rainbowsinthewood will appreciate the easier company after finishing fifth in the $50,000 B.C. Cup Distaff and going unplaced in a $15,000 claiming race Aug. 14. She finished second for $7,500 going 1 1/16 miles July 9 and was claimed out of the race by trainer Sylvea Gregory, who was acting on behalf of Grayross Stable.

Vying Ty Grr won a $7,500 claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 24, but didn’t make an impact when she came back for $12,500 in the same race Ebony N Ice exits. She went unplaced in her two route tries, but her new running style of coming from off the pace suggests she might have a shot at what figures to be a big price.