08/30/2009 11:00PM

It Happened Again back fast for Derby Trial

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It Happened Again will make his Hastings debut in the $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial on Monday. There are five stakes scheduled for Labor Day, but the Derby Trial is easily the day's most important race. It gives horses on the bubble a chance to boost their earnings enough to get into the Grade 3, $275,000 B.C. Derby on Sept. 27.

If more than 12 horses are entered in the derby, the ones with the most earnings this year receive preference. The premier race at Hastings was worth $300,000 at the beginning of the meet, but when the track cut purses by 8 percent a few weeks ago, the derby was reduced by $50,000. As part of a deal with the Vancouver Sun newspaper, an additional $25,000 has been added.

Trained by Terry Jordan, It Happened Again won't have any trouble getting into the B.C. Derby. He has won four races and placed in two graded stakes for earnings of $154,350 this year. He doesn't need to run Monday to get into the race, so it is a bit surprising to see him coming back this quickly after running and finishing third in the at Northlands Park on Aug. 22. It was his first start for Jordan, who was a bit disappointed in the effort. It Happened Again was previously trained by Larry Jones.

"He didn't run as well as I thought he would," Jordan said. "Maybe going around four turns had something to do with it. He came back in excellent shape and didn't seem to be tired after the race, so why not bring him back for the Trial? At least we'll get a race over the track before the derby."

It Happened Again will likely be a short price to win the Derby Trial. He will be the only horse in the field that has earned a Beyer Speed Figure in the 90s, and he's done it twice. A short price won't bother Jordan.

"I'm always happy to be the favorite," Jordan said. "It tells me I'm in the right race."

Woombroom Express fires another bullet

Woombroom Express was out for his usual bullet work Sunday morning. Trained by Quint McCabe, Woombroom Express worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, the best of 19 at the distance. It also was more than a second faster than the 1:01.20 recorded by multiple stakes winner Against the Sky, which was the second fastest of the morning.

Dating back to March 28, Woombroom Express has earned a bullet in 15 out of the 16 times he has worked. The only time he didn't earn a bullet, he worked a snappy five furlongs in 58.40 on July 19, second best for the day. The good news is that he has been running to his works and will be among the favorites when he goes for his fourth win in a row in the $30,000 PNE Presidents Speed Handicap on Monday. In his last start, he won the $55,000 B.C. Cup Sprint on Aug. 3.

"He loves to train," McCabe said. "There's no point in trying to take a hold of him, because he'll just run off with you anyway. He couldn't be doing any better, and hopefully he'll run another good race Monday."

Otero and Huitzilopochtli stay perfect

Both Otero and Huitzilopochtli remained undefeated and came out of their winning races last week in good shape.

Otero, ridden by Frank Fuentes, came from slightly off the pace to win the $30,704 Lassie Stakes on Wednesday. In the three-horse New Westminster Stakes on Friday, Fernando Perez was along for the ride as Huitzilopochtli cruised to a 7 1/4-length romp over his stablemate Macondo.

According to Huitzilopochtli's owner and trainer, Juan Olmos, he will make his next start in the $60,000 CTHS Sales Stakes on Sept. 13. Olmos trained last year's 2-year-old champion at Hastings, El Sinaloense. With three straight dominating performances in stakes races, Huitzilopochtli looks like a lock to win the title this year.

Trainer Dave Forster is hoping an allowance will fill for Otero, a Kentucky-bred. The only unrestricted stakes race for 2-year-old fillies left at Hastings is the $100,000 Fantasy at 1o1/16 miles on Oct. 24.

"I don't think I want to train her up to the race," Forster said. "If we can't get a race for her in the next few weeks, we'll probably just turn her out for the year."

Cuthbertson moves tack to Hastings

Jockey Alan Cuthbertson has shipped his tack from Winnipeg to ride at Hastings for the remainder of the meet, which concludes Nov. 8. Cuthbertson is currently sitting in second place in the jockey standings with 42 wins at Assiniboia Downs, which ends its meet Sept. 19. Cuthbertson, 62, is the leading rider in Canada among jockeys eligible to collect a monthly check from the Canadian Pension Plan.

"There are only a couple of stakes races left in Winnipeg, and I'm going back to ride both races," Cuthbertson said. "They're starting to run out of horses there. I thought I would get here early and maybe get involved in some of the big races here."

Cuthbertson's son Brad, 18, will handle his business. Brad started booking mounts for his father at Assiniboia two weeks ago.

* In elections held last week, Debbie Peebles was elected president of the local chapter of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. A former racing secretary at Hastings, Peebles will assume her role at the close of the HBPA Annual General Meeting on Sept. 29. She defeated Mel Snow, who has been the president for the past nine years.