08/20/2012 1:37PM

Hastings notes: Gregory likes his chances with High End Man in B.C. Derby

Four-Footed Fotos
High End Man nearly set a track record in the Richmond Derby Trial.

Trainer Peter Gregory thinks he has a good shot at winning his third British Columbia Derby at Hastings with High End Man, who was an impressive winner of the Richmond Derby Trial last Friday. Gregory won the Grade 3 race two years in a row for Empire Farms with Ever Steady in 1990 and Bolulight in 1991. High End Man appears to be peaking at exactly the right time. His final time for the 1 1/16-mile race was an excellent 1:42.86, less than a second off the track record of 1:42.20 set by Coral Isle in 1973. High End Man was coming off a disappointing third-place finish in the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay on Aug. 6.

“He ran the way we thought he would in the Derby Trial,” said Gregory. “I threw his race out in the Stellar’s Jay. It was just a waste of time.”

In the Stellar’s Jay, High End Man drew the rail and never relaxed while dueling with Unquiet through sprint-like fractions. In the Derby Trial he was under a stranglehold by leading rider Amadeo Perez while sitting outside of The Gov, who set moderate fractions.

“It was the best stepping-stone to the derby that we could have asked for,” said Gregory. “The race was at night so it was a little bit cooler. The track was perfect and it was a pretty easy race on him. When he pulled up he wasn’t blowing at all. It really couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Gregory loved the way High End Man came out of the race and is planning on working him five furlongs a week before the derby.

“It will just be an easy breeze,” said Gregory. “He’s fit and he doesn’t need much. He shouldn’t have any trouble going a mile and an eighth.”

Gregory is well aware Taylor’s Deal, who easily handled High End Man in the Stellar’s Jay, is the horse to beat in the Sept. 9 B.C. Derby. He isn’t afraid of the challenge, though.

“Taylor’s Deal is obviously a really nice horse,” said Gregory. “But I think the way we helped set him up might have had a lot to do with how strong he looked in the Stellar’s Jay.”

Gregory reminisced about winning the B.C. Derby and also the Longacres Mile the following year with Bolulight. He has the saddlecloth Bolulight wore in the Longacres Mile framed in his tack room.

“He won the Mile 20 years ago, and it was the last time they ran the race at Longacres,” said Gregory. “He was a special horse. He always had something bothering him, but it never stopped him from running his heart out. He is completely different from High End Man, who is as sound as they come.”

Gregory pointed out another difference between the two horses.

“When I got Bolulight he was already a proven horse,” he said. “I’ve been involved right from the start with High End Man, and it is very rewarding. He was bred by his owner, Gary McNeil, who has really hung in there and deserves a nice horse.”

Filly’s value jumps

The price for Hip #44 at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Yearling and mixed sale at Thunderbird Show Park Year on Sept. 11 went up considerably after her full brother Taylor Said won the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Sunday. It was Taylor Said’s sixth win in a row, and in his previous race he carried 128 pounds in the $75,000 B.C. Cup Classic.

Bred by Can-A-Mex Farms and Clive and Linda Lytle, the yearling filly by Stephanotis is also a half-sister to Taylors Deal.

Taylor Said and Taylors Deal are owned by Glen Todd and trained by Troy Taylor.

Todd and Taylor are also the connections behind Evelyn’s Dancer, who was an easy winner of the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club last Friday and will be a solid favorite in the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks, one of the five stakes races supporting the B.C. Derby Sept. 9. She won the 1 1/16-mile race by 2 1/4 lengths over Dance the Wind, and according to her jockey, Fernando Perez, the margin of victory was flattering to her opponents.

“I had a lot of horse the whole way, and she kind of dragged me to the lead,” he said. “She is a very nice filly.”