05/20/2011 1:46PM

Hastings: St. Liams Halo set for delayed stakes debut

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – St. Liams Halo will try to win his first stakes race when he runs in the $50,000 John Longden 6000 at Hastings on Monday.

With the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby in mind, St. Liams Halo was purchased privately last year by Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella. He never made it to the race, however, and his win over Heavenly Chorus in a $35,000 optional claimer at Hastings on April 24 was his first start since he won a one-mile maiden special weight on the Arlington Park turf course last June.

“He developed a puss pocket in one of his feet,” trainer Troy Taylor said. “We turned him out for the year and who knows, it might have been the best thing to happen to him. We have a fresh, fit, and healthy horse this year.”

Taylor has five horses nominated to the Longden, but he said St. Liams Halo and Prince Intent are the ones that will be running, with the emphasis on St. Liams Halo. The understated Taylor thinks he’s the best horse in his barn.

“All he has done is break his maiden and win a non-winners-of-two,” Taylor said. “But I really like him. I don’t think he is anything special, but he could be a pretty nice horse.”

Taylor wasn’t referring to St. Liams Halo’s personality when he said “pretty nice horse,” though.

“He’s a tough horse to be around,” Taylor said. “It is a good thing they gelded him last year or who knows what he would be like. It also helped him on the track. Both of his wins came after he was gelded.”

Forster starts Madeira Park early

Sunday’s fourth race for maiden 2-year-olds going 3 1/2 furlongs has a couple of interesting horses entered, Madeira Park and Claresmiezie.

Trainer Dave Forster turned a few heads when he entered Madeira Park. Forster is not a fan of racing 2-year-olds 3 1/2 furlongs, and he said the last time he did it was in 1984 with Taylor. Taylor didn’t win his debut, but he came right back to win going 3 1/2 furlongs and went on to become a multiple stakes winner.

Madeira Park has a right to be a good one. She is by Grade 1 winner Langfuhr and is out of Capilano, a horse Forster trained that won a couple of stakes races at 2 and the Washington Oaks at 3. Capilano has produced a couple of multiple stakes winners, Overact and Langara Lass. Madeira Park is a full sister to Langara Lass.

Forster explained the change-up.

“I bet I surprised a few people,” he said. “She’s a pretty mature filly, and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to get a race into her. She does everything right, and it worked out okay when I did it with Taylor.”

Claresmiezie, who drew the outside post in the eight-horse field, is probably the first 2-year-old running at Hastings in May that began her career at Keeneland. She didn’t show much in her debut, finishing ninth in a maiden special weight race April 9, but it could turn out to be a key race. The Wesley Ward-trained horse that finished second, Tiz Terrific, came back to win her next start in France, at Longchamp.

Claresmiezie worked a sharp three furlongs for trainer Greg Tracy at Hastings on May 14, and she could show a lot more in her first try on dirt.

Burnin’ Britches to Emerald Downs Stakes

Tracy also is looking forward to running Burnin’ Britches in the $50,000 Emerald Downs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings on June 4. Burnin’ Britches paid $22.80 winning a first-level $50,000 optional claimer by seven lengths over Belle Evangeline on May 14. The price was a reflection of the big jump in class she was taking after winning a $20,000 maiden claiming race in her first start this year April 24. In her only other race, she finished third in a $27,500 maiden claiming race at Northlands Park last year.

Tracy wasn’t surprised by her strong performance.

“She overcame a lot in her first start here,” Tracy said. “Not many horses can win with the kind of trip she had.”

Burnin’ Britches did have a brutal trip in her maiden win. She got bumped around leaving the starting gate and then was forced out to the middle of the track going around the first turn. She went about four wide around the stretch turn and then finished full of run to win drawing away with Quincy Welch aboard.

Keveh Nicholls picked up the mount for her second win and was suitably impressed.

“She surprised me a bit,” Nicholls said. “I watched her first race, so I knew she could run, but I didn’t think she was that good.”

Burnin’ Britches earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure for her dominating performance, 10 points higher than Castinette Dancer received for her win over Overvalued in the $50,000 Boulevard Casino.

Castinette Dancer and Overvalued are being pointed to the Emerald Downs.