11/16/2006 12:00AM

Little suspense about 2006 honors


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - With standouts in most divisions, there shouldn't be any surprises when trophies are handed out at the annual Industry Awards Dinner next spring. The dinner will be held in the Red Robinson Theatre at the Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam on March 16.

True Metropolitan wrapped up the older horse title with a convincing win over Spaghetti Mouse in the Grade 3 Premiers. Spaghetti Mouse was the only other possibility, but with losses to True Metropolitan in both the Churchill and Premiers, he will have to settle for the top older British Columbia-bred award.

True Metropolitan, who is trained by Terry Jordan, is also the front-runner for local horse of the year. True Metropolitan raced mostly in Alberta this year, dominating the older horse division there with four straight stakes wins. His late-season wins over Spaghetti Mouse in the Churchill and Premiers made it clear that he was also the best older horse at Hastings.

The British Columbia Derby winner Halo Steven would be the only other possibility for horse of the year, but he never faced older horses, and although he was very impressive winning the B.C. Derby, the quality of that field would have to be considered just average.

True Metropolitan is slated to run Saturday in the Woodbine Slots Cup. If he wins, he would have to be given serious consideration in Sovereign Award voting for the best older horse on dirt in Canada.

Monashee dominant

Monashee, trained by Tracy McCarthy, is clearly the top older filly or mare in western Canada. She won't repeat as horse of the year in British Columbia, because she was turned out after winning the City of Edmonton Stakes at Northlands Park on Aug. 27. She dominated the local filly and mare division at Hastings, however, and she showed that she is capable of carrying weight, toting 125 pounds when she won the B.C. Cup Distaff over What a Blurr.

Halo Steven is a lock to be named champion 3-year-old colt or gelding. He won both of his starts here, and his win in the B.C. Derby was one of the most impressive performances by any horse at the meet. A Florida-bred gelding, Halo Steven went head and head with Ok Nothanksforaskn through extremely fast fractions and then was game enough to hold off a late bid by Head Chopper. The derby was also the race of the year, with a half-length separating the first four finishers.

Halo Steven is trained by Barb Heads, and she also trains the top 3-year-old filly in the province, Excited Miss.

Excited Miss won four straight stakes races and was the clear leader of her division before she was turned out following her emphatic win over Sophie's Trophy in the Hong Kong Jockey Club. An exceptional filly, Excited Miss has won 6 of her 8 career starts and has earned $194,968. Not bad for a horse who cost $8,000 at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's 2004 yearling and mixed sale. A late-season injury kept Excited Miss out of the Grade 3 B.C. Oaks, which was won by Real Candy, but her overall record for the year makes her an easy choice.

Trained by Toni Cloutier, Ookashada surged to the top of the 2-year-old colts and geldings division with a dominating six-length win in the Jack Diamond Futurity. Setting very fast fractions, Ookashada just kept widening in the stretch to easily beat the B.C. Cup Nursery winner Born to be Bad. Ookashada cinched the title with a hard-fought win in the 1o1/16-mile Ascot Graduation in his next start.

Fantasy win clinches title

Suva and Chelsey's Image took turns beating each other in the final four stakes races for 2-year-old fillies, but Suva will get most of the votes after her win in the 1o1/16-mile Fantasy Stakes. The Fantasy was the only middle-distance stakes for juvenile fillies, and Suva was a clear 3 1/4-length winner over Deadly Zone with Chelsea's Image finishing third. Suva probably would have won the Sadie Diamond Futurity as well, but she was trying to lug in throughout her stretch-long duel with Chelsey's Image, and her rider, Pedro Alvarado, had to concern himself more with keeping her straight instead of getting down and riding her. Suva is trained by Steve Henson.

The sprinter of the year is the only real tough call. There were only two sprint stakes for older horses at the meet: the George Royal, won by Quiet Cash, and the B.C. Cup Sprint, in which Notis Otis beat Lord Nelson.

Quiet Cash, who was the top sprinter at Hastings in 2005, should get the nod again. His final time for the George Royal was faster than Notis Otis posted in his narrow win over Lord Nelson in the B.C. Cup Sprint, and the Beyer Speed Figure of 93 that Quiet Cash received was also the best at the meet for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Except for True Metropolitan, all of the potential champions have been turned out for the year and are expected to be back at Hastings in 2006.