09/05/2013 3:16PM

Hastings: Serendipity Grove a threat even on jump up in class


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Serendipity Grove looks like a major player, despite more than doubling his claiming price, when he runs in a $17,500 claiming race for 3-year-olds at Hastings on Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong dash attracted seven horses and appears to be a wide-open event.

With four wins, Serendipity Grove is the only multiple winner in the field, and he is on a roll right now, winning his last three starts. His first win in the streak came in a $5,000 claiming race for trainer Nancy Betts. Acting on behalf of Tom Leslie, trainer Jim Brown claimed him out of the race, and in his first start for his new connections, Serendipity Grove dead-heated for first with Bedroom Bully in an $8,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles. Brown brought him back in a sprint for the same price, where he forced an honest pace before drawing away to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Serendipity Grove has good speed but doesn’t need the lead, and he could get a nice trip from just off what should be a hotly contested pace. He appeared to be on his toes when he worked a sharp four furlongs in 48.80 seconds last Monday with Scott Williams aboard. Williams rode him in his last two wins and will retain the mount Saturday.

Stoneridge Storm looks like the main speed, and he could be dangerous leaving from post 2 with Enrique Gonzalez aboard. Trained by leading trainer Craig MacPherson, Stoneridge Storm scored a front-running win in a $30,000 optional maiden-claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs July 14 and then forced a quick pace before tiring to finish fifth in a quickly run first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds and up Aug. 18. He is going to appreciate the substantially easier company here and could be tough to get past if he breaks on top.

There is other speed signed on, however, and it could set up nicely for Sundoleil, who will be making his first start since he rallied to finish second in a $15,000 claiming race July 7.

The layoff is a bit of a concern, but in the past five years, trainer Robbie Anderson has won with 23 percent of his starters returning in between 61 to 180 days. Anderson, himself, is on a layoff after seriously injuring himself while trail-riding with his wife Suzanne, near Hope, British Columbia.

According to Suzanne Anderson, he is recovering from broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Suzanne Anderson, who owns Sunsoleil, has been running the barn in her husband’s absence. Under her guidance, the barn won three races last week.