10/10/2002 11:00PM

Heads puts up brave front against her brother in stakes


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Barbara Heads and her older brother Robbie Anderson have always been close, but that doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy beating him when they're running horses against each other. They had a pretty good sibling rivalry going earlier in the year with two very good older mares, Always a Dixie and Grey Tobe Free. Heads had the edge there, with Always a Dixie beating Grey Tobe Free three times at Emerald. However, she knows that she could be up against it when she sends out Brave Miss to take on her brother's very tough entry of Aquita and Chorus Dancer in the Fantasy Stakes Sunday.

Brave Miss is still a maiden but she did make a nice late run to get up for third in the Lassie Stakes, and Heads thinks that she will move up dramatically going a route of ground. "We've been pointing to this race all along," she said. "She's been very professional, and although I hate running a maiden in a stakes race, I've just been dying to run her long and there just aren't any spots. I know Robbie's horses will be tough, but I think Brave Miss will give them a run for their money."

Brave Miss finished third in a no-tag maiden sprint at Emerald Sept. 15, but the only reason Heads sent her down there was to try and get a longer race into her before the Fantasy. "It was supposed to be a mile but they had to shorten it to make it go," said Heads. "She needed to run so we ran anyway, but it's pretty frustrating not being able to stretch her out before this race."

Heads will take a small string to California after the Hastings meet ends, but she won't be taking Brave Miss with her.

"She'll be turned out after the Fantasy," said Heads. "She's a sound horse or we wouldn't have waited this long with her, but we'll just give her the winter off and bring her back next year when she'll have plenty of chances to stretch out."

Anderson should be pretty confident going into the Fantasy with his very strong one-two punch. Aquita won the Sadie Diamond Futurity despite leaving from the 11-hole and Chorus Dancer would probably have won the race if she hadn't been squeezed back leaving the starting gate. Anderson was right on when he predicted that Aquita would beat Chorus Dancer in the futurity, although Chorus Dancer finished seven lengths in front of Aquita when they previously ran against each other. This time he's not so sure which one he likes better.

"It's tough to pick one this time," he said. "They're both training well, but Chorus Dancer could be better going longer. She's got such a long stride and she's been very strong at the end of all of her races."

Anderson wasn't that concerned that Chorus Dancer drew the 11-hole. "At least she won't get wiped out leaving there this time. Hopefully she can get a clear run away from there and then find a spot to tuck in."

Aquita has more speed and Anderson figures she will be up close to the pace with Chorus Dancer making her customary late move. "You never really know how they'll handle going around three turns for the first time, especially as babies, but they certainly act like they'll be fine."

If they run well Sunday they could take on colts and geldings in the $150,000 Ascot Graduation Breeders' Cup Oct. 27. The Graduation is an early closing stakes and Aquita was nominated last spring. "She's Breeders' Cup eligible so we nominated her and we can always supplement Chorus Dancer if she runs a big race." The cost to supplement is $8,000.

* Lord Nelson, Futural, and Cruising Kat head the list of nominees to the $100,000 Premiers scheduled for next Sunday. Vernon Invader is also nominated but only as a precautionary move said his trainer Alex Murray. "He's still in New Mexico and they have a rule there that if stakes races don't get enough horses they cancel them. My guess is he'll remain there."

Twelve horses have been nominated.