05/20/2004 11:00PM

Lord Samarai hardly resembles half-brother


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The local crop of 3-year-olds finally get to run for added-money in the $40,000 City of Vancouver Stakes on Monday at Hastings.

Trainer Rob Van Overschot, who will saddle Lord Samarai, the likely favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong race, doesn't seem concerned about the late start for the 3-year-old stakes schedule. If Lord Samarai runs well, he will be heading to Alberta to run in the $100,000 Alberta Derby on June 19.

"They're no fitter than us," Van Overschot said, referring to the 3-year-olds in Alberta. "I'm not sure what kind of horses they have back there but they had a pretty cold winter and I heard it was snowing back there [Thursday]. They're probably a little behind schedule, too."

Van Overschot won the Alberta Derby two years ago with Lord Shogun, who is a half-brother to Lord Samarai. They are two completely different horses, however. Lord Shogun has never won a race he didn't lead from start to finish. Lord Samarai is capable of overcoming great obstacles, as he did in the Jack Diamond Futurity, when he was hammered leaving the starting gate but still managed to regroup and make up more than 12 lengths to win going away.

Lord Samarai will also be a much more accomplished horse going into the derby. He has already won three stakes races and was named the local 2-year-old champ. Lord Shogun had only won two races prior to the derby.

Based on their running styles, you might assume that Lord Shogun would be the high-strung one. Not so, said Van Overschot.

"Lord Samarai has always been a handful," he said. "It took three months to break him and I couldn't even shoe him last year. We had to heavily medicate him just to get the shoes on. He's certainly been worth all the trouble though."

Van Overschot blames Lord Samarai's quirky behavior for his rank effort, a seventh-place finish, in the 1 1/16-mile Ascot Graduation last year.

"He became completely unglued when they took him to the starting gate," Van Overschot said. "I think he got upset because the gate wasn't in the usual place. He's come a long way since then though and I think he'll be fine when we ship him. He's still a handful but he's getting better and better all the time."

Van Overschot has Bold'n Keen and Illusive Force entered in the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Sunday and he's happy with the way both are coming up to the race. He likes them equally and said that it all depends which one gets the best trip.

"That's a tough race," he said. "Just about anyone can win it."

Stratoplan could be the best older horse in the Van Overschot barn but he's only up to his second half-mile work and is still about six weeks away from running.

Future Flash slowly developing

Trainer Daryl Snow is considering a trip to Alberta with Future Flash, who is a full brother to 2002 B.C. Derby winner Cruising Kat, a horse Snow also trained. Future Flash just missed in the 2003 Ascot Graduation and he was a bit unlucky not to have won his first start this year, finishing a fast-closing second in a $50,000 optional sprint.

"He probably caught up to the leaders a little too soon and had to be wheeled five-wide so he got a bit tired down the lane," said Snow. "I was very pleased with the way he came back, and he had a very nice work Thursday."

Future Flash worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds.

According to Snow, Future Flash isn't nearly as far along as Cruising Kat was at this juncture.

"He's kind of a big dorky thing and he's been a green colt. But last time was a much more mature race," said Snow. "The Alberta Derby is in the back of our minds and if he continues to progress and shows us that he'll be able to handle the ship, we'll probably go."

Snow also said that Future Flash has had a little trouble handling the tight turns at Hastings and might be better suited to a mile track.

"He's ran into all kinds of trouble on the turns," he said. "At least when they go long around here they spread out a little more and for a horse with his style it's a lot easier going a distance than sprinting."