09/14/2012 2:07PM

Hastings: Marathon's slower pace could work in Sufi Dancer's favor

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Texas Buccaneer took advantage of a brisk pace to win the 1 3/8-mile second leg of the endurance series at Hastings on Aug. 17 but the advantage in the third leg on Sunday could shift to Sufi Dancer, who finished third as the favorite. The 1 7/16-mile starter handicap for 3-year-olds and up drew five horses and will go as race 3 on the eight-race card that begins at 1:50 p.m. Pacific.

Trained by Monica Russell, Sufi Dancer was an easy winner over Diablo Pass in the first leg of the series going 1 1/8 miles July 21, but after stalking a quick pace set by Dyna Stroll he tired late and finished third behind Texas Buccaneer and Diablo Pass last time out. The quick early fractions going 11 furlongs may have had something to do with his demise, or, it is possible he isn’t a marathon horse.

If Sufi Dancer can go a marathon distance we should find out Sunday. The pace should be considerably slower and he will either be the one they are chasing or \sitting just off Yvett’s Pride, who is the only other horse in the compact field with any kind of speed.

Leading apprentice Marlo Dunn retains the mount.

Trainer Mark Clouter and owner Leif Nordahl took advantage of the changed conditions of the series when they claimed Texas Buccaneer out of the first leg for $6,250.

In the past, the endurance series was run under starter conditions right from the start. Using the 2011 series as an example, horses had to have started for a claiming price of $8,000 or less in 2010 or 2011 to be eligible to the series. Claimed horses had to reestablish eligibility. Under the new conditions, horses were eligible to be claimed for $6,250 in the first race in the series and if a horse was claimed he didn’t have to reestablish eligibility.

Texas Buccaneer was close to the pace in the first leg before tiring finish fourth but he was 11 lengths behind the leaders after six furlongs in his win Aug. 17. Fernando Perez retains the mount and it will be interesting to see if Perez tries to keep him a little closer to the expected slow pace, or just lets him run his race and hopes Sufi Dancer can’t get the distance.

Diablo Pass should be heard from late.

Henry West and Yvett’s Pride round out the field.