06/09/2011 7:59AM

Hastings: Senor Rojo gets to stretch his legs


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Senor Rojo should appreciate the chance to stretch out for the first time this year when he runs in a $50,000 optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and up at Hastings Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile feature attracted a quality field of six horses that includes four Grade 3 winners.

Senor Rojo earned his Grade 3 credentials with a win in the 1 3/8-mile Premiers in his final start of 2010. Following the Premiers, Senor Rojo was turned out for the winter by his trainer, Dave Forster. Despite three wins going short, Senor Rojo is not noted for being a sprinter and he surprised a few people when he finished second to Noosa Beach in the 6 1/2-furlong George Royal when he returned to the races April 22. He earned a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 90 in the George Royal, so it was understandable that he regressed in the John Longden 6000, finishing fourth and dropping his figure by 10 points.

The shape of the race Saturday will have a big influence in how Senor Rojo fares. If a duel develops between Tommy Danzigger and Spaghetti Mouse, Senor Rojo is the likely winner. If one of them is allowed to set slow fractions, Senor Rojo could have a hard time catching the leader. Senor Rojo has actually never won at 1 1/16 miles, compiling a 0-2-3 record from 7 starts at the distance.

Richard Hamel rides.

Spaghetti Mouse, Tommy Danzigger and Trick of the North are the other Grade 3 winners in the race.

A win by Spaghetti Mouse would help move him closer to becoming the first British Columbia-bred to earn $1 million. All of the $946,186 he has earned has come from racing at Hastings, and according to his trainer, Terry Dubois, he will remain at Hastings until he retires.

A 9-year-old, Spaghetti Mouse still has a lot of fire in him. He is coming off of a sharp effort in the John Longden, setting the pace and then holding on well to finish third. He likes to be involved early, and it will be interesting to see if jockey Pedro Alvarado sends him to the lead or tries to stalk Tommy Danzigger.

Tommy Danizigger can be a dangerous horse if he is able to control the tempo.

Trick of the North will need an honest pace to make an impact.

Ganbei and Three Wood round out the field.