06/07/2012 12:24PM

Hastings: Stormy Canuck may be the one to catch


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The second-best place to be to watch the Belmont Stakes on Saturday is at Hastings, where a huge crowd is expected to gather with hopes of seeing former local jockey Mario Gutierrez complete his quest to win the Triple Crown aboard I’ll Have Another. To accommodate the expected size of the crowd, Hastings has moved post time for the first race up an hour to 12:50 p.m. Pacific.

“It’s a big deal to us and we’re expecting the largest crowd in years,” said Raj Mutti, general manager of Hastings. “We want to give our patrons plenty of time to enjoy the experience.”

Patrons who stay for the remainder of the eight-race card will have their hands full trying to come up with the winner of the seventh race. The $35,000 optional claiming race drew 10 horses, and there is no clear-cut favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

Stormy Canuck is a very sharp horse and figures to be involved right from the start. Trained by Mark Cloutier, Stormy Canuck is coming off a win over the 3-year-old Devil in Disguise in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race May 12. Devil in Disguise came back with a big effort to win the $50,000 River Rock Casino Stakes for 3-year-olds last Saturday.

Stormy Canuck could be the one they have to catch with Amadeo Perez riding.

Jump Up and Kissme will appreciate the easier company after a couple of solid efforts sprinting in the $50,000 George Royal and the John Longden 6000. Under trainer Phil Hall’s tutelage, Jump Up and Kissme rallied to finish second to Almost Time in the George Royal, and he was forced to go extremely wide while making a strong move when he finished his fourth in the Longden.

Jump Up and Kissme moved to a different barn following the Longden and will be making his first start for trainer Kerri Raven.

If an honest pace develops, it would help the chances of the classy 11-year-old gelding Trick of the North.

Trained by Barbara Heads, Trick of the North is the only graded stakes winner in the field. He won the Grade 3 Premiers at Hastings in 2009, and he also won the B. C. Cup Classic in 2010. His latest win came in a $25,000 optional race at Turf Paradise on Feb. 27. In his last start he was closer to the pace than usual when he finished fifth in a $32,000 claiming race at Golden Gate April 13.