10/10/2002 12:00AM

Leloup headed to New Mexico


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Improving 3-year-old Leloup continued his progress last weekend with a stylish 3 3/4-length win in a $50,000 optional claiming race at Hastings Park.

It was his third straight win and his first time going a middle distance. He looks like a horse with a bright future but local fans won't get to see him until next year, if at all. Leloup is owned and trained by Peter Stephen and is to be shipped to Sunland Park in New Mexico.

Stephen plans to point Leloup to the Sunland Park Yuletide Derby, a 6 1/2-furlong race in early December. "I really don't want to sprint him but I think he'll love the mile track and then I'll get to stretch him out again going a mile in early January," Stephen said.

Leloup has gotten better with each start and the long-striding gelding certainly looks like he will appreciate running on a bigger track.

"I was watching the replay of his race and it seems like he takes one stride for every one and a half compared to the horse that ran second," said Stephen. "You can see it in the mornings, too. When he's turned loose it's not that his legs go any faster, it's just that his stride gets longer. He's been a slow learner but he seems to be putting it all together now."

Stephen wasn't sure if Leloup would return to Hastings next year. "It all depends. If he's as good as he seems to be I might have to send him back east to Woodbine," he said. "But, we'll have to wait and see how he pans out."

Along with Leloup, Stephen is taking stakes winner Work Visa and 9-year-old J V Bennet, who has won five races at the current meet, to Sunland.

"I'm also taking some 2-year-olds. They have a pretty good 3-year-old program next spring and I think some of my babies could be good enough," he said.

Four stakes added to end of meet

The extension of the current meet, from Nov. 9, to Dec. 1, will take on a different look. Instead of running 13 and 14 races on Saturday and Sunday, the most that will be carded are 10 races.

Hastings recently announced a schedule of $25,000 overnight stakes for the additional eight days. The Fall Fashion for 3-year-old fillies and the Harbourview for fillies and mares are scheduled for Nov. 16. The Lions Gate, 3-year-olds and up, and the Autumn Leaves for 3-year-olds will be run Nov. 17. All four races are restricted to horses who haven't won a sweepstakes of $20,000 or more in 2002 and will be run at 1 1/16 miles.

Closing day will feature the $30,000 Au Revoir Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.

Grace for You's plans uncertain

Both Grace for You and Full Scream Ahead, the one-two finishers in last Sunday's Grade 3, $187,928 Ballerina Breeders' Cup, came out of their races in excellent shape, according to trainer Terry Marshall.

The Ballerina was the biggest career win for both Marshall and jockey Fernando Serna, who rode Grace for You.

Full Scream Ahead is headed to northern California, but Marshall isn't sure what he is going to do with Grace for You. "I'd like to take her to California with me and run her three or four times but I just might turn her out for the year."

Ballerina odds-on choice Elana D'amour finished up the track for the first time in her career. According to her jockey, Pedro Alvarado, it was because she hurt herself early in the race. Her owner, Gary Mayo, said the injuries were minor and if she bounces back, she could be headed to northern California with her trainer, Joe Apperloo.