05/04/2012 12:46PM

Hastings: Northern Causeway back home for John Longden 6000

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Northern Causeway, the 2011 Horse of the Year in British Columbia, returns to Hastings Sunday in the $50,000 John Longden 6000. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew a full field of 11 horses and anchors a solid eight-race card that begins at 1:50 p.m.

Northern Causeway wants more distance but he loves Hastings and he comes into the John Longden 6000 off a couple of strong races with serious horses, including Grade 2 Swaps winner Skipshot at Golden Gate. He also appears to be heading in a positive direction with increasing Beyer Speed Figures, and if he can come close to the 94 he earned in his third behind Love Sundays in an allowance race March 18 he is going to be tough to beat.

The last time Northern Causeway ran at Hastings he won the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby, and the horse that finished second, Jebrica, came back to beat older horses in the $100,000 Premiers. According to trainer Len Kasmerski, Northern Causeway is “doing great.”

Pedro Alvarado, who will ride Northern Causeway in a race for the first time, was impressed when he worked the classy 4-year-old colt three furlongs in 35.80 seconds on April 29.

“He really has a long, fluid stride,” said Alvarado. “He did that very easily.”

Northern Causeway drew post 10, from where Alvarado will need to use his tactical speed to avoid a wide trip.

The horse they will be chasing is Taylor Said, who is trained by Troy Taylor.

A 4-year-old gelding by Stephanotis, Taylor Said has been beset by physical problems and has raced only five times. He won a maiden special weight race going 3 1/2 furlongs when he debuted as a 2-year-old on Aug. 6, 2010 and he didn’t make his next start until he faced older horses in the $50,000 Express last Sept. 11, finishing second behind Bonboni. In his latest start he wired a field of $40,000 starter horses at Golden Gate Feb. 14.

Taylor Said’s uncoupled stablemate St Liams Halo has the stronger credentials and he won the Longden last year. Nonetheless, he will be making his first start of the year and his connections are looking at more important races in the future, particularly the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in August.

Quintons Destiny had a rough trip in the $50,000 George Royal April 15, and he beat Taylors Deal in a $25,000 claiming race for nonwinners of two at Santa Anita Jan. 22.

Jump Up and Kissme, a surprising second in the George Royal, and Crew Leader, who was ninth, look like the other contenders in the field.