08/12/2011 12:37PM

Hastings: Richmond Derby Trial gets boost from invaders


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Commander and Northern Causeway figure to attract a lot of attention when they make their first start at Hastings this Sunday in the $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial. The 1 1/16-mile feature drew eight horses but it really boils down to a battle between Jump Up and Kissme and the newcomers.

As its name implies, the Derby Trial is the final prep for the Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby Sept. 11. The derby closed with 24 nominations Aug. 6.

Commander will be making his first start for trainer Troy Taylor. A Kentucky-bred colt by Broken Vow, Commander has won two races from nine starts and he is coming off a second in a $50,000 optional claiming race that ended up with four horses when it was washed off the turf at Delaware June 28.

Commander’s owners, Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella, bought him with the idea of running him in both the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby at Northlands next Saturday and the B.C. Derby.

“He had a nightmare trip getting here and he was a little dehydrated when he arrived,” said Todd. “We had to back off of him a little and it would have been crazy to run him a mile and three-eighths.”

Jockey Mario Gutierrez rides Commander, and he was impressed when he worked him a bullet five furlongs bullet in 58.60 seconds Aug. 7.

Northern Causeway, trained by Len Kasmerski, appears to handle any kind of surface and he beat a decent horse in Bluegrass Reward in a 1 1/16-mile $32,000 optional race at Pleasanton when he tried dirt for the first time July 1. He went into the race off a narrow loss in a first-level allowance race on turf at Golden Gate May 30.

This will be his first time going around three turns.

“I have no idea how he’ll handle the turns,” said Kazmerski.

Northern Causeway appeared to handle them just fine when he worked four furlongs in 48 seconds Friday morning, and he also has the kind of tactical speed that wins a lot of races at Hastings.

Jump Up and Kissme, trained by Phil Hall, owns a home field advantage and has never been worse than third in six starts here. He was clearly the best horse when he beat Herbie D. by 2 3/4 lenghts in the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay Aug. 1, but was disqualified for bumping Herbie D. when he blew by him at the top of the stretch.