09/18/2002 11:00PM

Locals test Tails of the Crypt

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Shippers Tails of the Crypt and Salt Grinder are the big guns in the 57th renewal of the Grade 2, $200,000 British Columbia Derby on Saturday at Hastings Park. The 1 1/8-mile derby drew 13, and Boomslang will need a scratch in order to run.

The locals are headed by Shacane and Silver Donn, who finished one-two while separated by a nose in the Richmond Derby Trial.

Tails of the Crypt, who races for Jam Jar Racing Stable, will be favored. The last time he faced 3-year-olds, on the main track at Woodbine, he cruised to a 6 1/4-length victory at nine furlongs in the Victoria Park Stakes on June 8. He came back against older horses going 1 1/4 miles in the Dominion Day Handicap on July 1, but tired to finish fourth after making a threatening move at the quarter pole.

After finishing fourth to Portcullis on turf in the Toronto Cup on July 13, Tails of the Crypt was given a break by his trainer, John Ross. He resurfaced in a $40,000 optional race at Fort Erie on Aug. 27 and finished a fast-closing second as the 1-2 favorite.

"I was very pleased with his race," said Ross. "I was looking at a prep race for the Colonel McLaughlin Stakes at Woodbine but it didn't fill, and the race at Fort Erie came up so I just threw him in it. He had only one five-furlong work in over a month so he ran a great race."

Ross shipped Tails of the Crypt to Hastings from Toronto last week and he's doing well here, according to his exercise rider and groom David Ward. "David said everything is going great and there's no major issues," said Ross.

Saturday's race will be run around three turns, but Ross doesn't think that will pose any problem for Tails of the Crypt.

"He's not a big horse so he shouldn't have any trouble with the turns. He'll be ridden by Jake Barton, who knows the track real well," said Ross.

Salt Grinder used his speed to win the 6 1/2-furlong Klondike Handicap in his only start at Hastings. His best race at his home base of Emerald was a two-length win over Flying Notes in the 1 1/16-mile Washington Owners Breeders' Cup on Aug. 11. Jim Penney trains and Chris Loseth rides.

Between them, Shacane and Silver Donn have won all four of the middle-distance stakes for 3-year-olds at Hastings this year. Silver Donn could have the edge Saturday because Shacane drew post 12.