10/26/2006 11:00PM

Hot barn sends Kadence


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's been a tale of two seasons for trainer Craig MacPherson at Hastings this year. The first part of the season was a horror for MacPherson. He was blanked with his first 34 starters, and he didn't win his first race here until Grammasaidicould won her debut in a bottom-level maiden race on June 24. Since then it's been a whole different story. Heading into this weekend, MacPherson has won 19 races from 114 starts, and considering how cold he was at the start of the year, his numbers for the latter part of the meet are strong. He's hoping to add to those totals when he sends out Kadence in the Ascot Graduation Breeders' Cup on Sunday.

"I never thought I would go through a streak like that," said MacPherson. "I wasn't sure how many races it took before I won my first race because I eventually quit looking. We had actually won a couple of races at Calgary before we opened here, so it looked like we were going to get off to a good start. But when we got back here we were striking out. The horses were running well but we just couldn't push one pass the wire."

MacPherson wasn't sure why things turned around for him. He said that he didn't change his training methods or anything else he was doing with his horses.

"I can't explain why were doing poor, and it's hard to pin anything on why we started doing good," he said. "I just kept coming to work and waited for our luck to turn around. Thankfully, it did."

Kadence has been a pleasant surprise for MacPherson. A 2-year-old gelding by Alydeed, he won a 6o1/2-furlong maiden special weight race in his debut on Sept. 10, then came right back to win an allowance sprint easily on Oct. 8.

"We liked him from the start, but he ran a lot better than I thought he would when he won his first start," he said. "He was still a little green, and I just didn't think he was ready to run a race like that first time out. He ran an even better race the second time, so it will be interesting to see how it goes in the Ascot. I'm looking forward to it."

MacPherson thinks that Kadence won't have any trouble stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, but he was concerned about how well he'll handle what could be an off track.

"He's a big strong horse," he said. "I don't know what his numbers are for the distance, but I'm sure the Alydeeds can go on. I think he's bred more for speed on his dam's side, but he sure acts like he'll get the distance. He's a big gangly horse, though, so how he'll handle the off going is an unknown."

Alydeed won the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate and ran second to Pine Bluff in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. The dam of Kadence, Nuvo's Girl, was strictly a sprinter, and so was her first foal. That may account for Kadence's low Tomlinson figure of 272 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.

In both of his sprints, Kadence won from a stalking position and MacPherson envisions the same kind of trip in the Ascot.

"He has natural speed so he should be able to place himself in a good spot behind Ookashada," he said. "I don't want him to be in front and I certainly don't want to do a head-and-head thing with him. Hopefully, there's someone else in there that can make Ookashada work a little harder."

The Ascot is shaping up as one of the interesting races of the year.

Adding to it's intrigue is the presence of Knighthood, who is by Fusaichi Pegasus. A Kentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus has an advertised stud fee of $125,000 and most of his progeny are generally too expensive for horse owners who race exclusively at Hastings.

Knighthood, trained by Dino Condilenios, was an easy winner when he debuted in a maiden special weight race Sept. 3, and he is making his second start in the Ascot. Condilenios likes the way he's coming into the race but is concerned about his lack of racing experience.

"He was fighting a little bit of a shin after he ran, so I had to back off of him for a few weeks," Condilenios said. "We sent him to the farm and he's been going great since he came back. I think he's fit enough for the Ascot, and I also think he's classy enough to make the jump into stakes company. But I just don't know if he's had enough seasoning with only one race. I like him a lot."

Knighthood is owned by Swift Thoroughbreds, and according to Condilenios, they bought him after he failed to reach his reserve at the September Keeneland sale last year.

"I think his reserve was around $90,000, so I think they paid a little less than that for him," he said.