09/14/2001 12:00AM

Keyron tepid favorite at Hastings


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Keyron, fresh off a good second in the Richmond Derby Trial Stakes on Sept. 2, could be a tepid favorite in a $50,000 optional race for 3-year-olds at Hastings Park on Sunday. But the 1 1/16-mile race is wide open and a case can be made for just about any of the seven horses entered.

Keyron has improved since trainer Frank Barroby stretched him out to a middle distance. In his first try going around three turns on this five-eighths of a mile track he made his usual late run to get up for third behind Thurston in a $50,000 optional race July 22. He can be forgiven for his poor effort next time out in the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes, as some horses had difficulty handling the track that day. Keyron put it all together with a solid win over $20,000 claimers Aug. 15 and followed that up with his second to Paladdie in the Richmond Derby Trial. Melissa Wilson rides.

Keyron should have a decent pace to set up his late bid. Tavolino has good speed, and has used it to win three of his last five starts. He set the pace before finishing second to Keyron on Aug. 15, and faded to fifth in the derby trial.

Trainer Mark Molina has shipped Point Blank, who possesses good early speed, up from Emerald Downs. Point Blank will be looking for his third straight win since being claimed for $12,500 on July 22.