09/25/2009 12:00AM

Jersey Town comes a long way


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Is a first-level allowance winner coming out of one of the major barns in the eastern United States good enough to beat the best 3-year-olds from the Pacific Northwest? We will find out when Jersey Town tackles the top 3-year-olds from Hastings and Emerald Downs in the Grade 3, $275,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Sunday.

The premier race of the Hastings meet drew nine horses and headlines a 10-race card that includes two $50,000 undercard stakes.

Jersey Town is owned and was bred by Charles Fipke, a resident of British Columbia, and has won races at Gulfstream, Belmont and, more recently, Monmouth Park. His 8 1/4-length win over Hello Lover in a first-level allowance at Monmouth on Aug. 2 stamps him as the one to beat in the 1 1/8-mile derby. He followed up his impressive score with a second-place finish in the $65,000 Restoration Stakes on the turf Sept. 7.

He is trained by Barclay Tagg and will race for local trainer Barbara Heads on Sunday. According to Heads, Jersey Town has handled the long ship well.

"He's a classy horse," said Heads. "Barclay told me he was easy to train and he's just a nice horse to be around. He also said a mile and an eighth might be beyond his reach on a mile track, but that he might get the distance with the short stretch here. He also likes the horse and wants him back after he runs in the derby."

Tommy Danzigger is the top 3-year-old in western Canada and will likely be favored. Trained by Rob Gilker, Tommy Danzigger is coming off a win in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 22. He will break from the outside post, but he has plenty of speed and won the B.C. Cup Stellar's Jay over this five-furlong oval from the 10-hole.

Winning Machine heads a four-horse contingent from Emerald. Trained by Doris Harwood, Winning Machine edged Rooster City by a head in the Emerald Downs Derby on Sept. 7. Rooster City, trained by Tim McCanna, is also in Sunday's field.

Quinalt could be coming up to a big race. According to his trainer, Carlos Moreno, Quinalt has improved dramatically with the addition of blinkers. Running with blinkers for the first time, he scored an upset in the Trooper Seven Stakes at Emerald on Sept. 13.

A fast pace should help set up Ganbei and Gather de Justice, the first two finishers in the Richmond Derby Trial.