10/08/2008 11:00PM

Hastings: Stakes high for three in Premiers


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The $100,000 Premiers on Sunday drew only six horses but it shapes up as the most interesting and important race at Hastings this year.

A win by either Krazy Koffee or Spaghetti Mouse will assure him the title of horse of the year in British Columbia at the annual industry awards dinner scheduled for Nov. 15.

The race, however, goes through True Metropolitan. Trained by Terry Jordan, True Metropolitan has won the Sovereign Award for the best older horse in Canada the past two years and he is certainly in the running to win it again this year. To really have a chance though, he will need to win the Premiers and another race in Ontario. If True Metropolitan comes out of the Premiers in good shape he will be pointed to the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 9. True Metropolitan secured his second straight Sovereign Award with a win in the Autumn Stakes last year.

True Metropolitan needs to win his remaining two races to have any shot at another Sovereign Award because he is coming off a shocking loss to Test Boy in the $100,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands Park on Sept. 6. At equal weights, True Metropolitan was sent off as the 1-20 favorite and he appeared to have complete control of the race when he came into the stretch with a two-length advantage. Nonetheless, he tired to finish second by a half-length. Jordan takes full responsibility for the loss.

"I messed up," he said. "I didn't go over him as well as I should have and it turned out he was full of mucus when he came back to the barn. I never should have run him."

Jordan is happy with the way True Metropolitan is coming into the Premiers.

"It took about 15 days to clear him out and he seems as good as ever now," he said. "He had a very good five-furlong work in 59 [seconds] and change and I am very confident going into the race."

Elkhart fits in Ballerina, Jordan says

Jordan will also be running a horse in the Grade 3, $125,000 Ballerina on Saturday - Elkhart.

Elkhart doesn't have nearly the credentials of True Metropolitan and she probably won't be one of the favorites in the race. Acting on behalf of Bob Cheema, Jordan claimed Elkhart off trainer Sid Attard for $32,000 out of a winning race at Woodbine on Aug. 31.

"I think she fits with the horses in the Ballerina," he said. "She was good enough to win allowance races at Woodbine. I think Sid was having a hard time finding a race for her. He took a shot and tried to steal one for $32,000 and got caught. She seems like a pretty nice mare and I don't think she's running out of line in the Ballerina."

Against the Sky markedly improved

In June, trainer Craig MacPherson had no illusions about running Against the Sky in a Grade 3 race. After all, Against the Sky, who MacPherson claimed for $8,000 in 2006, had finished second in a $25,000 claiming sprint on May 25 and she barely won a $20,000 route on June 21. Because she had run in an $8,000 claiming race in 2007, she was eligible for the starter handicap races that make up the endurance series at Hastings. In the first leg of the series on July 20, Against the Sky beat colts and geldings by over 10 lengths and she hasn't lost a race since. In her latest start she upset heavily favored Holy Nova in the Delta Colleen Handicap. She figures to be one of the favorites in the Ballerina on Saturday.

"The Ballerina certainly wasn't a race we were thinking about at the beginning of the year," said MacPherson. "She has really come a long way and it has been fun to watch. She has a lot of confidence going for her right now, plus she's a big strong healthy mare."

In the Delta Colleen, Against the Sky was pretty much given the race when she was allowed to cruise the first half-mile in just over 49 seconds with Frank Fuentes aboard. The prospect of a much faster pace in the Ballerina doesn't concern MacPherson.

"It will obviously be a different scenario this time," he said. "But one of the good things about her is that she doesn't have to pack her racetrack around or her own pace scenario. I'll just leave it up to Frank, and hopefully he'll help her work out a good trip."

Blue Sky Holiday training sharply

According to Tammy Snow, Blue Sky Holiday is set for another big race in the Ballerina. Snow, a former jockey, is the exercise rider for Blue Sky Holiday. She is also married to the trainer of Blue Sky Holiday, John Snow. Blue Sky Holiday is coming off of a win in the Grade 3 B.C. Oaks on Sept. 20 and in her only start against older fillies and mares she came close to winning the B.C. Cup Distaff on Aug. 4.

Tammy Snow was aboard for Blue Sky Holiday's five-furlong work in 1:02.20 seconds over a sloppy track on Oct. 4.

"That was a nice easy work for her," said Snow. "I let her start out nice and easy and finish real strong. She galloped out like a freight train. Everyone is very happy with the way she came out of the Oaks. She went right back to training, eating up, doing everything right. I think we have a good shot in there."