10/01/2016 7:57PM

Killin Me Smalls barely holds off 30-1 longshot in B.C. Premier's Handicap

Four-Footed Fotos
Killin Me Smalls, under Keishan Balgobin, reaches the wire a head in front of Venetian Mask in the B.C. Premier's Handicap.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - When Killin Me Smalls held a clear lead after an extremely slow 25.17-second  first quarter-mile in the Grade 3, $100,000 B. C. Premier’s Handicap at Hastings on Saturday, it was pretty clear he was going to have an excellent chance of winning the 1 3/8-mile race for the second year in a row.

While Killin Me Smalls ($5.70) did win the race, he was all out to hold off 30-1 longshot Venetian Mask by a head. Shooting Jacket rallied to finish third.

With Keishan Balgobin aboard, Killin Me Smalls was in front by 2 1/2 lengths after a half-mile in 49.43 before Square Dancer moved into contention at the six-furlong mark. After disposing of last year’s local Horse of the Year, Killin Me Smalls seemed to be in complete control of the race entering the fourth and final turn. However, Venetian Mask made a strong late move from a stalking position and came close to pulling off the upset.

“I felt pretty comfortable the whole way,” said Balgobin. “I had a lot of horse and was confident we were going to get there turning for home.”

Trainer Ernie Keller was surprised to see Killin Me Smalls on the lead early. On paper it looked like Sorryaboutnothing, who was coming off a front-running win in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby, was going to be the one they would have to run down.

“I told Keishan to take him back,” said Keller “It worked out pretty good, though.”

The final time was 2:17.40.

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Killin Me Smalls is owned by Ed Welsh and Deltin Stable. A 6-year-old son of Marcavell, Killin Me Smalls has career earnings of $498,535.

Earlier, jockey Richard Hamel won both divisions of the CTHS Sales Stakes. His win aboard Stanz in Command in the colts and geldings division was his 1,500th career victory. He made it 1,501 when he was an easy winner aboard C U At Eau Claire in the fillies division in the next race.

C U At Eau Claire, trained by Greg Tracy, paid $2.20.

Stanz in Command paid $6.70 for his nose win over Lord Vancouver.  A son of Second in Command, Stanz in Command is trained by Hamel’s wife, Charlene Miller.

“It was nice to get it over with,” said Hamel. “I hit kind of a dry spell the last couple of weeks. Winning for Charlene made it very special. She is my life partner and it was wonderful to share the victory with her.