06/06/2012 1:33PM

Hastings: Taylor Said aces middle-distance test in Sir Winston Churchill


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Leading trainer Troy Taylor’s options with Taylor Said improved considerably when the 4-year-old B.C.-bred gelding scored a convincing two-length win in the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill at Hastings last Sunday.

Taylor Said was stretching out to a middle distance for the first time, and he didn’t have any trouble going around the three turns in the 1 1/16-mile Churchill. With Fernando Perez aboard, Taylor Said broke on top and looked very comfortable while carving out moderate fractions. He had plenty left when his stablemate St Liams Halo made a run at him on the stretch turn.

What was especially encouraging to Taylor and owner Glen Todd was how Taylor Said reacted when Northern Causeway moved up to engage him coming out of the first turn.

“He’s always been afraid of horses, and that’s why we weren’t sure if he would be able to go long,” Taylor said. “In the past, he probably would have run off with the rider. Instead, he relaxed beautifully.”

Perez was confident Taylor Said would get the distance and wasn’t surprised by the strong performance. He rode Taylor Said for the first time in the John Longden, where Taylor Said came from a stalking position to score an impressive win over St Liams Halo.

“He showed me a lot in the Longden,” Perez said. “He didn’t seem to be bothered when he didn’t make the lead, and he was happy to sit behind the two horses in front of him. I really liked the way he relaxed in the Churchill. He was comfortable the whole time. He is just a very nice horse.”

Taylor is looking at different races for Taylor Said and St Liams Halo.

“We are going to try and keep them apart,” he said. “One of them could end up at Northlands, or maybe Emerald Downs. I can’t see any reason in running them against each other.”

The same connections won the $50,000 River Rock Casino with Devil in Disguise on Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile River Rock was the first middle-distance stakes race for 3-year-olds at Hastings. Devil in Disguise was no surprise. He won a mile and 70-yard maiden race at Hawthorne in his second start as a 2-year-old and was coming off of a strong second-place finish in an allowance sprint for 3-year-olds and up. He was sent off as the heavy favorite in the River Rock and didn’t disappoint, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over The Gov, despite getting stopped at the quarter pole.

Taylor said Devil in Disguise would make his next start in the $50,000 Chris Loseth on June 2.

Devil in Disguise might not be the best 3-year-old in the Taylor barn. Taylors Deal, a half-brother to Taylor Said, might hold that distinction. He has won his last three races, including the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby on Feb. 25. He won a six-furlong allowance race at Hastings on April 14 and then was given some time off.

“There was nothing wrong with him, but he hasn’t had a break since we started with him last year,” Taylor said. “The race we’re looking at for him is the B.C. Derby, and we want him to be a fresh horse when the race comes up.”

The Grade 2, $200,000 British Columbia Derby is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Todd thinks Devil in Disguise is the better horse, but he cautioned that both Mario Gutierrez, who rode him in the Turf Paradise Derby, and Perez, think otherwise.

“They both like Taylors Deal,” Todd said. “Fernando hasn’t ridden him in a race, but he’s been impressed when he has worked him.”

Taylors Deal worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds Wednesday morning with Perez aboard. Taylor said he wasn’t sure when he would make his next start.

The Gov points to Chris Loseth Stakes

Trainer Phil Hall was pleased with the way The Gov ran in the River Rock and is planning to bring him back in the $50,000 Chris Loseth.

The Gov set the pace, and after being passed by Devil in Disguise and Clear the Runway, he fought back gamely to edge Clear the Runway for second.

“He was coming back in just two weeks, so I was pretty happy with the way he ran,” Hall said.

Hall is looking at the $50,000 Western Canada Stakes for 3-year-olds at Northlands Park on June 16 for Unquiet who romped by 6 1/4 lengths in a $50,000 optional claimer Saturday. Unfortunately for his connections, he was disqualified and placed last for causing interference leaving the starting gate. He was ridden by apprentice Alex Marti. Hall took it all in stride.

“Alex is a good rider, and he made a mistake,” Hall said. “I’m not going to hold it against him, because it happens to the best of them. The main thing is the horse came out of the race in good shape, and I’m looking forward to taking a road trip.”