08/29/2007 11:00PM

Local duo face tough invader


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Alpine Garden, who is coming off of an easy win over Tanika in the $100,000 Sonoma Handicap at Northlands Park Aug. 11, figures to be favored in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings Saturday. Also in the six-horse field are local divisional leaders Suva and Napa.

The 1 1/16-mile Hong Kong Jockey Club serves as the final prep for the Grade 3, $125,000 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks Sept. 22.

Alpine Garden has thrived since being purchased privately by Bob Cheema and transferred to trainer Terry Jordan's barn. Alpine Garden has easily won both of her starts for her new connections. She won a "B" maiden special weight race at Woodbine July 27, and in her most recent start she cruised to a 3 1/4-length win in the Sonoma.

Jordan likes the way Alpine Garden worked a bullet half-mile in 47.60 seconds Aug. 24. "She's a nice horse and she's doing very well right now," he said. "I don't think they're going to beat her."

Quincy Welch, who rode Alpine Garden in the Sonoma, retains the mount.

Suva, trained by Steve Henson, barely held off Napa to win the B.C. Cup Dogwood Stakes Aug. 6. It was a much better performance than it looks on paper. The race was at 1 1/16 miles and Suva went at least three wide every step of the way, and she probably came close to running 1 1/8 miles. It was remarkable that she was able to hold off the strong late move by Napa.

Hidden Heart figures to set an honest pace and that could help Napa, who does her best running late.