09/27/2013 3:53PM

Hastings: Hopeseeker stands out in CTHS Sales Stakes

Four-Footed Fotos
Ruby’s Victory is the only stakes winner in the colts and geldings division of the CTHS Sales Stakes Sunday at Hastings.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The two divisions of the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes at Hastings on Sunday shape up completely different. In the colts and geldings division, which goes as the seventh race, Hopeseeker is going to be heavily favored to win his first stakes race. In the fillies division, it is hard to take a firm stand on any of the six horses entered.

Both races will be contested over 1 1/16 miles and are restricted to 3-year-old Canadian-breds that have gone through a Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (British Columbia Division) sale where the full commission was paid.

Trained by Carl Lausten, Hopeseeker is going to appreciate the substantially easier company in the highly restricted Sales Stakes after a big effort in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby in just his fourth start. In the 1 1/8-mile B.C. Derby, he sat just off the speed and when it looked like he might be dropping out of the race going into the stretch turn, he found another gear and rallied to finish second. Hopeseeker figures to get a perfect trip from just off what should be an honest pace and if he comes close to repeating his performance in the Derby, he is going to be a handful. Lausten is pleased with how he is coming into the race.

“He is doing well and he does look good in there, but there are seven horses he has to go around,” Lausten said. “What I like about him is that you can do whatever you want with him. There is some speed, so hopefully he can sit just behind them.”

It is supposed to rain heavily all weekend, but Lausten wasn’t concerned about Hopeseeker running over a wet track.

“He’s never had any trouble handling a wet track in the mornings, so he should be okay,” Lausten said. “It never gets very deep and muddy here anyway.”

Antonio Reyes retains the mount.

If there is going to be an upset, it could come from He’s Junior, who has shown a lot of potential in his two starts, including an impressive win in a $30,000 maiden optional-claiming race with Enrique Gonazalez aboard last Sunday.

Trainer Peter Gregory isn’t thrilled about bringing He’s Junior back in a week, but he is looking forward to stretching him out for the first time.

“His pedigree is all about distance,” Gregory said. “He’s by Skimming, who won the Pacific Classic twice, and his dam won five route races. It would have been nice to have more time between races, but if you watch the replay you’ll see that he wasn’t all-out in his win last week. Enrique knew my plan was to run him back in the Sales Stakes, and he took care of him.”

He’s Junior drew post 2, and breaking from the rail is Ruby’s Victory, who is stabled right next to He’s Junior. His trainer, Milton Palma, is Gregory’s assistant trainer.

Ruby’s Victory, the only stakes winner in the field, and He’s Junior have good speed and could knock each other out if they hook up early. Palma and Gregory said they haven’t talked over strategy with each other.

“We’ll let the riders do what they think is best,” Palma said. “They can go to the front together as long as they don’t go too fast.”

Leading rider Amadeo Perez rides Ruby’s Victory.

Perez also will be aboard Le Facteur Wow, who by default is the morning-line favorite in the fillies division.

Trained by Steve Henson, Le Facteur Wow is coming off a fourth-place finish in a $17,500 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 30. She has never won going a middle distance, but she did finish second in the $35,000, one-mile Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise in February and also ran a decent third going a mile on turf in the $35,000 Scottsdale Handicap. Prior to her latest race, she finished fifth in the $50,000 British Columbia Cup Dogwood going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 5.

Henson is currently in Arizona setting up for the upcoming Turf Paradise meet. Assistant trainer Larry Grieves likes the way the race shapes up for Le Facteur Wow.

“I think she’s got a good shot going a mile and a sixteenth because I don’t think the other horses in the race want to go long,” Grieves said. “She’s doing well, and I think Perez is the best rider here with horses coming from off the pace.”

Speed will be provided by Kiri’s Gal, who set a wicked pace before finishing last in her only try at a middle distance in the Dogwood. Trainer Craig MacPherson is hoping she won’t be as eager Sunday.

“She has a hard mouth, and once she grabs the bit, it’s hard to get her back,” MacPherson said. “Hopefully, she’ll just fall out of there and won’t be all jacked up early.”

Dee’s Dream is sharp right now but is questionable at the distance.