07/20/2006 11:00PM

Henson has Cup-ful of runners


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Steve Henson is planning to be very busy on B.C. Cup Day on Aug. 7. Henson could have a horse for every one of the seven stakes races that make up the bulk of what has become the biggest day of racing at Hastings.

"It's still a couple of weeks away, but if things work out, I should have one for every race," he said.

To make that happen, Henson would have to run Beau Soleil in the $100,000 Classic as opposed to the Sprint. Beau Soleil has raced only once this year - a very good second to Notis Otis in an 6 1/2-furlong allowance race July 14 - and Henson wasn't sure if Beau Soleil would be ready to go 1 1/8 miles off of just one race.

"He came out of the race in great shape and he's a very happy horse right now," said Henson. "We already have a pretty nice horse in My Master for the Sprint, so we don't want to run both if we don't have to. We're going to work Beau Soleil in the next few days and we'll have a better idea where we're at with him. He will be running, but I'm just not 100 percent sure which race we'll be going in right now."

Beau Soleil is undefeated going a mile, and he would likely be one of the favorites if he ran in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 20. Nevertheless, Henson wasn't looking past B.C. Cup Day.

"The mile is only a couple of weeks after B.C. Cup, and I don't know if we want to run him back that quickly," he said. "We're based here and we support local racing. B.C. Cup is our biggest day, and we want to help make it a success, so we're focusing on that."

Henson will be helping out quite a bit if he runs both Regal Pusher and What a Blurr in the Distaff. Monashee is such a standout in the local filly and mare division that there are some concerns that there won't be enough horses to run against her in the Distaff. Monashee is trained by Tracy McCarthy.

"We're here to make Tracy happy," quipped Henson, who once worked with McCarthy. "I know we'll be up against it running against Monashee, but we're still hoping to run both of them."

Management prods horsemen

Henson was one of 14 trainers who received a letter from management at Hastings that said they weren't running enough horses in relation to how many stalls they were allocated. He echoed the sentiments that many of the other trainers expressed that received the letter.

"I'm not saying they were wrong in what they said in the letter, but I'm disappointed that they didn't talk to us about the reasons," he said. "I don't know how many times I've entered horses in races that didn't fill, and there's been a lot of times where I've gone to enter a horse and I would have been the only horse in the race, so I didn't bother.

"I'm here to run, and I'm a strong supporter of the racing here. I don't run horses out of town, and when I do run a horse they're well meant. I ran a horse the other day that was 18-1, and that's the first horse that's been in double digits at the meet. Plus I started out with only 12 stalls, and I've picked up more stalls as the meet has progressed."

Henson has started 29 horses at the meet and has won 5 races.

A couple of other prominent trainers that received letters were Janet Armstrong and Lance Giesbrecht. Armstrong is in the top 10 in the standings and has won three stakes at the meet. She was forced to ship a couple of her stakes horses, Sophie's Trophy and Outrageous Limit, to Emerald Downs because there weren't any stakes races for them here. Giesbrecht has been one of the top trainers at Hastings for more than 20 years. He was the leading trainer for four straight years beginning in 1994. He has started 27 horses at the current meet.

"We've been posting the starts-per-stall list since the outset of the meet, and the letter was a friendly reminder that the horsemen need to help give our fans a good product," said Hastings general manager Michael Mackey.

Sungold Wonder craves company

Trainer Barb Heads will have a pretty strong contingent for B.C. Cup. One of the horses she is planning on running in the Stallion Stakes is Sungold Wonder, who is entered in the eighth race Sunday.

Sungold Wonder won the Jack Diamond Futurity last year, and he made a strong move to finish a close third in the CTHS Sales Stakes in his last start. Sungold Wonder was gelded after the Sales Stakes. Heads sent him out to work a half-mile Wednesday morning but he pulled himself up.

"He's never been able to work by himself, but I thought that he might have changed his ways after we gelded him," said Heads. "We gave him some company to work with Thursday and he worked a strong half-mile."

McAfee honored by horsemen

Bryant McAfee received the Industry Service Award from the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association at the group's summer convention last weekend in Bloomington, Minn.

McAfee has been the secretary-treasurer of the local horsemen's association since 1971 and has held the same position for the Canadian HBPA since the early 1980's.

McAfee was recognized partly because of the major role he has played in developing substance abuse programs at racetracks.

"I was completely surprised and humbled by the award," said McAfee. "It's really quite an honor."