05/13/2005 12:00AM

Injury takes Regal Red out of Sun Handicap


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The sensational Regal Red will be off for at least eight weeks, her trainer, Robbie Anderson, reported Friday morning. Regal Red would have been a heavy favorite to win her seventh straight stakes in the Sun Handicap on Saturday, but has been scratched.

"She came up with a saucer fracture," said Anderson. "It's basically a crack in the cannon bone. You treat it like a bucked shin, and if all goes well she should be able to come back to the races in a couple of months."

According to Anderson, Regal Red will stay at the track and be given a couple of weeks' rest. She will be X-rayed again, and if she heals properly will begin jogging again. Anderson said if the saucer fracture does not heal properly, it is possible that Regal Red will be retired.

"We'll certainly have to assess the situation," said Anderson. "We're not going to run her unless she's 100 percent."

A homebred 4-year-old filly, Regal Red is a valuable broodmare prospect. She is out of Grade 3 winner and local champion Sophie J, whose two previous foals, B.C. West and Commodore Craig, also have ability. B.C. West has earned more than $168,000, and Commodore Craig is a stakes winner with earnings of $218,413. Regal Red has won 7 of her 8 starts and has earned $183,189.

Notis Otis in critical condition

Notis Otis, last year's local 2-year-old champion, is very sick, and according to trainer Tracy McCarthy is in danger of losing his life. Notis Otis was bumped hard leaving the starting gate in the President's Stakes at Stampede Park last weekend, and according to McCarthy the incident resulted in a collapsed lung. He also bled, said McCarthy, who thinks the stress of the incident contributed to the horse's illness.

"He has a very bad case of diarrhea, and his blood count is way out of whack," said McCarthy. "His red blood count is at 70 percent, and it should be at about 30. It's almost like tar. We put him on antibiotics following the race and he seemed fine, but he became very sick when he was finished with the antibiotics."

Notis Otis had an emergency blood transfusion Thursday, and McCarthy said he had made some progress Friday morning.

"He's looking a little better, but it's still real serious," she said. "We took two gallons of blood from our stable pony, and hopefully it will help turn things around."

Alabama Rain makes season debut

With Notis Otis out, the 3-year-old division is looking for a new leader. Alabama Rain, who is trained by Lance Giesbrecht, could stake a claim when he makes his 3-year-old debut in the Klondike Handicap Sunday. A B.C.-bred gelding, Alabama Rain won three starts at 2, including the New Westminster Stakes and more importantly the $112,000 Ascot Graduation, the only middle-distance race for 2-year-olds at Hastings.

Alabama Rain had a setback at the beginning of April, when he contracted a virus, but according to assistant trainer Dennis Terry, Alabama Rain is fine now and Terry is expecting him to run a good race Sunday.

"It wasn't anything major, but it kept us out of the first stakes, which was canceled anyway," he said. "I know the horses he's running against have had a start, but he's fit enough and he's a very nice horse."

Terry said he was very pleased with Alabama Rain's six-furlong work May 5, when he accidentally hooked up with a couple of horses that were working five furlongs and four furlongs.

"A lot of trainers would have been very upset with the way it developed, but we were thrilled," said Terry. "He got a lot more out of the work than he normally would have, and it really set him up nicely for his first start."

Western Writer could also jump to the top of the division with a win Sunday. He usually breaks behind the pack, however, and he

hasn't shown the kind of early speed that is needed to win sprints. Western Writer will certainly be a major factor when they stretch out, and his trainer, Brian Phillips, said he is hoping a minor change of equipment will help him get involved a little sooner in Sunday's sprint.

"We changing from a French to a full blinker so he doesn't see the horses beside him in the gate," said Phillips.

As usual, Western Writer broke slowly and finished a non-threatening third in a $75,000 optional sprint in his first start this year.

"Actually we found out after the race that his thyroid was bothering him," said Phillips. "We thought he was fine going into the race, but he didn't make his usual charge so we had him checked over. He should be back to his usual self Sunday."