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Hastings: Premiers, Ballerina could produce Breeders' Cup starters
The $100,000 Premiers and the Grade 3, $100,000 Ballerina at Hastings this Monday will take on a lot more significance than usual. As unlikely as it may seem, both races could end up being preps for Breeders’ Cup races.
Commander will take a shot in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon if he wins the Premiers. The connections of Class Included are looking at the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic if she runs well in the Ballerina.
Class Included is trained by Jim Penney, who usually means business when he ships a horse to Hastings from his home base at Emerald Downs. According to Daily Racing Form statistics, the trainer has compiled a 12-8-8 record from 52 starters in Vancouver. His biggest win here came with Irish Bear in the 1987 British Columbia Derby. Irish Bear won the Premiers in his next start and Penney brought him back in 1988 to win the Premiers again. Local jockey Chad Hoverson was aboard for all three wins.
Last year, Penney won the Premiers with Jebrica and the British Columbia Oaks with Class Included. Jebrica is back to defend his title in the Premiers and Class Included will try and atone for her loss as the favorite in last year’s Ballerina. Russell Baze will ride both horses on Monday.
Class Included dominated the filly and mare handicap division at Emerald Downs this year and she never looked like losing when she won the $50,000 Delta Colleen by 3 1/2 lengths over Heidi Maria at Hastings on Sept. 9. She will have to beat the top local 3-year-old filly Evelyn’s Dancer if she is going to go on to the Ladies’ Classic.
Penney’s daughter Kay Cooper and her husband, former jockey Bryson Cooper, are in charge of the horses Penney ships to Hastings.
Kay Cooper is well aware of the challenges facing Class Included.
“First off we know how tough a filly Evelyn’s Dancer is,” said Cooper. “But it will be a good test for our horse. It is going to be expensive to run her in the Breeders’ Cup and we are well aware how big a step up in class it is. But, if she is good enough to beat a good field in the Ballerina we think she deserves a shot at it. Plus, if she does win, the money she earns will help offset some of the cost.”
Kay Cooper arrived at Hastings last Thursday. Bryson arrived earlier and supervised Class Included and Jebrica’s five-furlong works here with Hoverson aboard last Sunday.
“Bryson and Chad were very pleased with the works,” said Cooper. “We already know they like it here.”
Jebrica has won just a single race since he won the Premiers last year. In his first start following the Premiers, he finished last in a five-horse allowance race at Golden Gate with Russell Baze aboard.
“He just hated running on Tapeta,” said Cooper. “He would train fine over it in the mornings, but Russell said he didn’t want to run over it when he ran in the race in the afternoon. He’s had a few setbacks since he was here last year, but he appears to be back on top of his game now.”
Cooper said her goal for Jebrica this year was to have him ready for the Grade 3 Longacres Mile and she was happy with the way he went into the race. The way the race unfolded is another story.
“He got bumped at the start and had a lot of traffic trouble while being stuck behind a slow pace,” she said. “It was a pretty rough trip.”
Jebrica goes into the Premiers off a third-place finish behind his stablemate Kooky Saluki in the $40,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for Washington-breds at Emerald on Sept. 9.
Wilo Kat may be live longshot
Wilo Kat figures to be a longshot in the Premiers but he does have a chance. Trained by John Snow, Wilo Kat is coming off a fifth-place finish in the B.C. Derby but it was a lot better race than it looks on paper. He was making a strong move along the rail when he got stopped cold on the stretch turn. If he had been able to keep his momentum going he probably wouldn’t have finished worse than second behind Second City.
“He ran a huge race in the derby,” said Snow, who won the 2003 B.C. Derby and Premiers with Roscoe Pito. “I think he’ll run all day and the mile and three-eighths should be right up his alley.”
Wilo Kat appeared to be on his toes when he worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 with former jockey Tammy Snow aboard on Sept. 29.
“He came out of the derby in great shape and I think he is coming up to another big race,” said Snow. “Tammy just loved the way he worked.”
Wilo Kat was claimed by Snow for $10,000 out of his first start this year. Since then he has won three races and was stakes-placed twice for earnings of $58,288 for owners Wayne Oliver, Rob Fiorvento, and Cowboys n Indians Stable.
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