Updated on 09/15/2011 12:36PM

I'm Free relies on his old pal

Email

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - I'm Free was so impressive winning the Burnaby at Hastings Park that he even surprised his trainer, Henry Miller Jr. "I thought that he would run a good race, but I never expected that," said Miller, referring to I'm Free's 4 1/4-length win over heavily-favored Diglett on June 30.

I'm Free has now won two of the three added money events for 3-year-olds at the meet and has to be considered the leader in the division. He's also likely to be favored in Sunday's Jim Coleman Province.

Miller gives a lot of the credit for I'm Free's success to a 25-year-old Appaloosa named Apache, who accompanies him to the track in the mornings and during post parade in the afternoons. It seems that Apache has a calming effect on I'm Free, and when he's not around, I'm Free can get a little rambunctious. "When Apache went home for a couple of weeks, I'm Free would push around Apache's replacement pony and he would break out in a sweat and get all steamed up," said Miller. "He could push the other pony around but Apache won't stand for it and I'm Free knows that, so he doesn't even try."

Sunday's race is filled with horses who appear to want the lead and all of I'm Free's wins have come on the engine. Miller said he doesn't think I'm Free has to be on the lead to win, but will leave the decision to jockey Mark Patzer.

"I haven't really spent a lot of time trying get him to rate because it's hard to line up another horse to work with him," Miller said. "And I don't think it's fair to sacrifice one of my other horses just for him. He's pretty relaxed with Apache around anyway, so if the situation warrants it, I think that he'll rate just fine."

Norm prepares for a comeback

Jackie Humber must have taken to heart Mike K's comeback win in the Independence Handicap at Emerald Downs. She's trying to bring back another former stakes winner, Name for Norm. Humber was his groom when he racked up stakes wins here and at Emerald Downs in 1996 and 1997. Norm was given to Humber by his owners, Ed Thompson and Bindy Sangara, when he retired with a bowed tendon in 1998.

The 7-year-old horse is now being trained by Mike Turner, who said he was pleased with Name for Norm's half-mile work in 50.80 seconds on Thursday. "He's been galloping on our farm for about 45 days and he seems to be doing fine," said Turner. "The bow seems to be firmly set and if Warner Pass could win all of those races with the same type of thing, maybe he can, too."

Guaranteed pool for select seven

Hastings Park has dropped the idea of having a $50,000 guaranteed sweep six pool and instead has opted to put the money into the select seven. The select seven will feature a 75 percent carryover if nobody selects all seven winners and will always be on the last seven races of the card.

"We couldn't get approval from the Canadian Parimutuel Agency for the sweep six until late August and we didn't want to wait that long," said Hastings general manager Phil Heard. The first day for the select seven will be July 22.

o Fernando Serna broke his ankle when Fast Lane Jane flipped at the starting gate in Wednesday's fifth race and will be out for at least eight weeks. Serna, who was having his best year since arriving here in 1998, was scheduled to ride undefeated Kat Dancer in the Jim Coleman Province, Excited at Last, who will be a heavy favorite in the Ladnesian next Saturday, and Inish Glora in next , Sunday's Nanaimo.