08/26/2001 11:00PM

Kat Dancer looks for old form in Trial


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Sunday's $35,000 Richmond Derby Trial is the last chance for local 3-year-olds to earn a berth in the $200,000 British Columbia Derby on Sept. 29. I'm Free has won five of the six stakes held this meet for 3-year-olds with Diglett winning the other.

Both I'm Free and Diglett are planning to run in the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby on Sept. 9 and their absence turns the Derby Trial into a wide-open affair.

Kat Dancer began his career with three straight wins and it looked like he would be one of the leaders of the 3-year-old division. But after an impressive win over allowance horses May 27, he didn't return to the races until the July 1 Jim Coleman Province Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, a race in which he finished up the track.

"He just wasn't training very well at the time," said his trainer and part owner Rosann Anderson. "He didn't have any specific problems, but the track was loose and he didn't like it at all."

Anderson partly blamed the sloppy track for Kat Dancer's poor performance in the Province and scratched Kat Dancer out of the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes when the track again came up wet. Kat Dancer returned to finish a second to I'm Free in the 6 1/2-furlong Mr. Prime Minister on Aug. 19, and Anderson is happy to have him back on his game again. "He's acting like he was in the spring," she said. "He's very playful when he's feeling good and lately he's been biting and jumping and just acting like he's a happy horse."

Anderson is optimistic that Kat Dancer will run a good race in the Trial. "I'm pretty sure it was the sloppy track and not the distance that caused his poor race in the Province. Hopefully we'll get a fast track this weekend and then we'll know for sure."

Aim to Win, who is owned by Fairmeade Farm and trained by Terry Jordan, was entered for $25,000 last Saturday but after mulling it over, his connections decided to scratch out of that race and run in the Derby Trial instead. Aim to Win looked like he had potential when he won his maiden for $15,000 and then followed that up with another front-running win for $25,000 on June 6. In his next start he finished a very good second to Godolphin Road in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race July 2.

"We tried to rate him, and while he finished second we didn't think it was such a great race," said assistant trainer Peter Gregory. "So we decided to send him next time and since he ran so poorly, we thought that we might as well run him for a tag."

It wasn't surprising that Aim to Win finished up the track in his second try going a middle distance. He was sent hard from an outside post and battled through sprint-like fractions before tiring after six furlongs.

"After going over his two races we came to the conclusion that his first one wasn't so bad and that we might have been wrong in sending him the next time. We'll give him another try in the Trial and then reassess him after the race."

After finishing third in the Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs on Aug. 18, Lady's Jewel came back in just seven days to win the $54,300 Free Vacation Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Catahoula Rose last Saturday.

"We'll give her next week off," said her trainer Andrew Collins.

Lady's Jewel went head and head with Catahoula Rose through moderate fractions before she drew off around the stretch turn. She held a two-length lead into the stretch and was ridden out by her rider Sam Krasner. "She was much more relaxed today than she was at Emerald," he said.

Lady's Jewel will make her next start as one of the favorites in the $175,000 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sept. 8.

Senate Appointee to Grey Tobe Free

Robbie Anderson made a slight change of equipment on Grey Tobe Free and the result was a 1 3/4-length win and a $45.60 mutuel in the $37,940 Senate Appointee Stakes last Saturday.

"She chipped her ankle in the Oaks last year, so I had been using an ace bandage, which gives her more support," said Anderson. "I switched back to Vet-Wraps, which are lighter, and she seemed to be a lot more comfortable. She showed signs of coming around when she finished fourth in the B.C. Cup Distaff and Chris [Loseth] said she worked extremely well before the race."

Odds-on favorite Grooms Derby finished second after setting a rapid pace of 23.14 seconds, 46.36, and 1:11.21. Final time for the race was 1:44.42.

"She had been off for a month and a half and was probably a bit too sharp," said trainer Michael Turner.