07/24/2007 11:00PM

Heads barn gathering momentum


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's been a bit of a struggle for trainer Barb Heads this year, but there are signs that things are turning around for her barn.

At this juncture of the meet last year, Heads was second in the trainers standings with 23 wins. Heads went on to tie Terry Clyde and become the first woman to win the training title at Hastings. This year she's won nine races at the meet going into Friday and is seventh in the standings.

Heads won three races last weekend and she also lost a close photo with Brass Bard in the first leg of the Pacific Customs Marathon Series. Brass Bard will likely be heavily favored to win the B.C. Cup Marathon in his next start, Aug. 6. The horse that beat him Saturday, Newton John, is a Virginia-bred and isn't eligible for the Marathon, which is restricted to B.C.-breds.

Brass Bard was coming off of a fifth-place finish behind Spaghetti Mouse in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors, where he was clearly outclassed. In the B.C. Cup Marathon, Brass Bard will be running in a race where he really belongs and Heads is hoping that other horses in her barn will find similar spots to run in.

"One of the big reasons we haven't done as well this year is that we haven't been able to run a lot of our horses in races where they really fit," Heads said. "If it's a horse that wants to go long, the race goes short. Or, because some races haven't filled, they've had to run a little bit over their heads."

Heads was feeling optimistic about how the rest of the year shapes up.

"You just have to be patient and hopefully things will eventually fall into place," she said. "There's no reason to panic and start doing things differently. We'll just keep doing what helped us be successful in the past."

A virus that has been going around the Hastings backstretch for the past month hit her barn pretty hard, especially the young horses. A lot of 2-year-olds that were sent home because of the virus or bucked shins are just starting to come around now.

"We have a lot of nice babies," she said. "I really like some of the ones by Finality, who looks like he's going to be a very good sire around here."

This is the first crop for Finality, a Todd Pletcher-trained horse by Dehere who won the 2002 Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap on turf at Belmont. All five of his wins were on grass.

"I heard he has grass breeding," Heads said. "But that doesn't mean they can't handle dirt. I have a few of them, and they all seem to want to be racehorses. So far, I'm pretty impressed with the ones I have."

Finality is certainly off to a good start as a win-early sire. He's had five starters and they've all shown some ability. Freequarterstime, who is trained by Robbie Anderson, has been the most impressive, winning a 3 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race by 8 1/2 lengths on July 15.

Two horses by Finality that Heads trains appear to have bright futures. Remarkable Miss ran well to finish second when she debuted in the Ladnesian Stakes on July 5, which was open to colts and geldings. Rosada also debuted in a stakes race, finishing fourth in the Timber Music on July 14.

"They both came out of their races in good shape and we're nominating them for B.C. Cup," Heads said.

Heads also was nominating Montero and Galica to the B.C. Cup Distaff.

"We're only going to run if Monashee doesn't," Heads said. "We're not going to run just for her entertainment."

Because of the overwhelming presence of Monashee, who has won seven stakes races in a row, the Vancouver Sun, which was scheduled for July 15, didn't fill. The same thing could happen with the Distaff.

Market Bell targets Stellar's Jay

Trainer John Snow also had a good weekend, winning two races. One of the horses he won with, Market Bell, could make his next start in the B.C. Cup Stellar's Jay.

A 3-year-old gelding by Mass Market, Market Bell would be taking a big step up in class. He won a $25,000 maiden race sprinting Sunday and he would be tackling a very tough group in the 1 1/16-mile Stellar's Jay, which will likely include last year's local juvenile champ Ookashada. In his last start, Ookashada won the Chris Loseth Handicap on July 8.

"We'll certainly be taking a bit of a shot," Snow said. "But he's really coming around now and he ran well the only time he went long. Plus, his owner really wants to support racing here and B.C. Cup is our biggest day of the year."

Market Bell is owned by Thomas Bell. Bell is the vice president of corporate development and investor relations for Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the owners and operators of Hastings.