04/22/2011 1:20PM

Hastings: Woodbroom Express may be hard to catch in sprint feature


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The connections of Woombroom Express made a prudent move by scratching the speedy 6-year-old gelding out of the $50,000 George Royal Stakes on Friday to run in a first-level optional $35,000 claiming race that will serve as the Hastings feature Sunday. The six-furlong sprint drew seven horses and goes as the sixth race on the seven-race card.

Woombroom Express would have been a longshot to beat horses such as Grade 3 Longacres Mile winner Noosa Beach in the George Royal. On the other hand, there doesn’t appear to be any horse who can run with him during the early stages Sunday and it wouldn’t be surprising if he went off as the post-time favorite.

Trained by Dennis Terry Jr., Woombroom Express has been firing bullets while preparing for his first start since last September. He looked razor sharp when he worked 6 1/2 furlongs out of the gate with jockey Dave Wilson aboard April 13. His final time of 1:19 flat was more than two seconds faster than the second best time of the day.

Woombroom Express doesn’t necessarily need the lead. He stalked the lone speed when he won the B.C. Cup Sprint in 2009. Nonetheless, there isn’t much doubt that Wilson will put Woombroom Express on the lead.

Seminole Brave has shown good speed in the past for trainer Mel Snow. In his first start in 2009, he earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his front-running win in a second level optional claimer and then came right back to win the George Royal. He lost some of his early zip last year and didn’t win a race. He closed out the year with a second-place finish in a $25,000 claiming race Oct. 11.

St Liams Halo is a bit of a mystery in that he hasn’t started since June 10, 2010, and he has done most of his running on grass. In his last start he easily won a one-mile maiden special weight race on the Arlington turf course. In his only two starts on dirt he finished fourth both times in straight maiden races at Fair Grounds. He will be making his first start for trainer Troy Taylor.

Trainer Greg Tracy has entered two horses owned by Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd., Heavenly Chorus, and Tease the Tiger.

Heavenly Chorus owns the best Beyer Speed Figures in the field and appears to have the best chance of the two horses.