08/31/2011 12:21PM

Hastings: Too Much Dirt lowers his sights

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – At the beginning of the year Too Much Dirt was considered one of the leading local candidates for the Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby, which comes up on Sept. 11. After all, he won the $52,000 Ascot Graduation, the only middle-distance race for 2-year-old males last year, and he closed out 2010 with a second-place finish in the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity.

Too Much Dirt didn’t progress as a 3-year-old, however, so instead of running in the derby he will be one of the favorites in a $25,000 claiming race that will serve as Friday’s feature. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds drew seven horses and headlines a seven-race card that starts at 3:20 p.m. Pacific.

Trained by Craig MacPherson, Too Much Dirt looked like he was on the derby trail when he won a 1 1/16-mile $50,000 optional race June 12. A couple of subsequent dull efforts in the $50,000 Chris Loseth and the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay altered his connections’ plans, however. This will be his first start since he finished eighth in the Stellar’s Jay Aug. 1 and he should appreciate the easier company.

Too Much Dirt will be ridden by Amadeo Perez.

A deep closer, Too Much Dirt will need an honest pace to work with, and one of his stablemates Minstrel’s Time or Matchabull will likely be on the lead.

Matchabull, who drew the rail, chased a reasonably fast pace in the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay before tiring to finish fifth. He is coming off a last place finish in a $25,000 sprint Aug. 14.

Minstrel’s Time will be stretching out for the first time. He won a $30,000 optional maiden claiming race in his last start July 22.

Leading rider Richard Hamel abandons Too Much Dirt to ride Minstrel’s Time.

Tai Shan is stepping up in class following a second-place finish behind Hornblower in a $17,500 claiming race going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 12. The Cindy Krasner trainee has won three races this year, all for $17,500. He won his only other try going a middle distance on July 1.

It is a wide-open race and any of the horses entered could jump up and win it.

Trainer Ned Sams is taking the blinkers off Patzcuaro, who might be worth a stab at what should be a decent price. He couldn’t keep up in the Richmond Derby Trial but he made a late move in a $75,000 optional race in his previous start.

Silver City Sam and Tarue Grit round out the field.