07/26/2013 3:31PM

Hastings: Stormin for Becka ready to go long in Stellar's Jay


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Stormin for Becka is finally developing into the horse trainer Craig MacPherson thought he could be when he won his 2-year-old debut in impressive style last August. He is coming off back-to-back wins in allowance sprints and will be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time when he runs in the $50,000 Stellar’s Jay Stakes for 3-year-olds on B.C. Cup Day.

The Stellar’s Jay is one of six stakes restricted to British Columbia-breds that make up the bulk of the Monday, Aug. 5, B.C. Cup Day card that is traditionally one of the biggest days of the meet.

It sure looked like Stormin for Becka had a bright future when he rallied to win a maiden race at six furlongs last year. Because of the impressive way he won the race, he was made the heavy favorite to win the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes in his next start. After running erratically during the early stages of the race, jockey Amadeo Perez pulled him up and jumped off going down the backstretch. When Perez bailed, it gave the impression that Stormin for Becka had broken down or at least injured himself in some way. It turned out he was fine.

“He took a few funny steps leaving the gate, and Amadeo thought there was something wrong with him, so he pulled him up,” MacPherson said. “Obviously, we were scared to death when he jumped off.”

Stormin for Becka was a sound horse when he got back to the barn, and MacPherson gave him a shot in the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity with Richard Hamel riding. Once again, he took some awkward steps and finished sixth. Following another dull effort in a first-level allowance race, he was turned out for the year.

“I had no idea what was going on, and thankfully, he hasn’t done any of that stuff this year,” MacPherson said. “I was just hoping when he came back as a 3-year-old he would mature, and he certainly has.”

Stormin for Becka won a first-level allowance race in his first start this year and finished a respectable fourth in the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes on a sloppy track before winning his next two starts.

He showed more tactical speed in his latest win on July 14 and should be set up perfectly for the Stellar’s Jay.

MacPherson is hoping Stormin for Becka can emulate his dam, Backseat Becka, who won the 2004 B.C. Cup Debutante. Her first foal, Undoit, a full sister to Stormin for Becka, finished second in the 2011 Debutante. Coincidentally, Backseat Becka’s only other foal, Grove Trotter, is running in the second race Sunday. He figures to be one of the favorites in the 3 1/2-furlong dash for 2-year-old maidens.

Backseat Becka did not win in five route attempts, but she did finish third going 1 1/16 miles in the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes as a 3-year-old. MacPheson thinks Stormin for Becka has a good chance of handling the three turns he will be going around in the Stellar’s Jay.

“I’m not saying he will improve going long, but from the way he trains, he should get the distance,” MacPherson said. “We’ve been looking at the Stellar’s Jay since he won his last race and really, he couldn’t be doing any better.”

Condilenios pair work for stakes

Trainer Dino Condilenios worked a couple of his stars Thursday morning, and he was pleased with the way Shooting Jacket and Shrug handled their assigned tasks.

Shooting Jacket worked an easy five furlongs in 1:01.40 with Marlo Dunn aboard. He won the Chris Loseth on July 1 and is being pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 17. Condilenios believes Shooting Jacket will relish the 1 3/8-mile distance of the Canadian Derby.

“I’ve never had a horse that I was so sure about being able to handle a mile and three-eighths,” Condilenios said. “It’s really the main reason we are looking at the race.”

Shrug, prepping for the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 18, worked a snappy half-mile in 47 seconds flat with Frank Fuentes up.

After winning his second stakes at the meet in the Sir Winston Churchill, Shrug finished a disappointing fourth in the $50,000 Lieutenant Governor’s on July 1.

“I had a feeling he was going to run a dull race, because he was coming back too soon,” Condilenios said. “We freshened him up a bit, and Frank said he worked great.”

Herbie D to Longacres Mile

Standing in Shrug’s way in the Longacres Mile will be Herbie D, who made his first trip outside of British Columbia a successful one when he won the $50,000 Mount Rainier by 2 3/4 lengths over Stryker Phd at Emerald Downs last Sunday. Anyone familiar with Herbie D knew the 1 1/16-mile race was probably over when jockey Amadeo Perez coaxed him through a very slow half-mile of 47.39 seconds while under no real pressure.

“I was really happy with the way he handled everything,” trainer Rob Gilker said. “He’s back home now and doing great.”

Herbie D earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his Mount Rainier win and has now won 9 of his 12 starts for earnings of $229,555.