06/20/2007 11:00PM

Luhuk's Dancer shines

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Luhuk's Dancer earned his way into the Grade 3, $100,000 Lieutenant Governors with a sharp win in a no-conditions allowance race at 1 1/16 miles last Sunday, according to his trainer, Ned Sams. The Lieutenant Governors goes July 1.

A 4-year-old gelding by Luhuk, Luhuk's Dancer has been a decent horse throughout his nine-race career. He's won five times and his only poor race was in the Grade 3, 1 3/8-mile Premiers last year. It was his first time facing older horses and he was in the race for a mile, but then he couldn't keep up with the two best older handicap horses in western Canada, True Metropolitan and second-place finisher Spaghetti Mouse.

Sams took over as trainer of Luhuk's Dancer this year, and under his care the horse is a perfect 2 for 2. Prior to his impressive win last Sunday, he also won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race for horses who had not won this year.

"He's a really nice horse," Sams said. "Bringing him back in two weeks to run a mile and an eighth might be asking a lot of him, but he came back in excellent shape and where else am I going to run him? Plus, he's a big, healthy horse, so hopefully the quick turnaround won't bother him."

Sams is impressed with the versatility Luhuk's Dancer has shown in his two starts for him. He went right to the front in his win sprinting but he rated nicely behind a quick pace before taking charge at the top of the stretch Sunday. Luhuk's Dancer was given a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for the strong performance, easily the best in his career.

"It's been a lot fun having him in the barn," Sams said. "He'll do whatever you want. He's got plenty of speed but he'll relax for you, and he's capable of winning from well off the pace."

Dave Wilson rode Luhuk's Dancer in his latest race, but Felipe Valdez will be back on board in the Lieutenant Governors.

"Felipe would have ridden him Sunday, but he was riding in a couple of stakes in Alberta last weekend," Sams said.

Wilson won't be left out in the cold, though. He's the regular rider of Spaghetti Mouse, who figures to be either the first or second choice in the Lieutenant Governors. Spaghetti Mouse, who won the Governors last year, is also trained by Sams.

Few challengers for Monashee

It was a bit like pulling teeth, but after a lot of encouragement from management at Hastings, the trainers of four fillies and mares decided to take a shot at beating Monashee in Saturday's $50,000 Strawberry Morn Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Hastings.

For a long time, it looked like the race wasn't going to fill. The main reason was that Monashee has won six stakes races in a row and she picked up only one pound after she dominated her opponents carrying 124 pounds in the 6 1/2-furlong Senate Appointee on May 26.

It's never easy for a racing secretary to decide what a fair weight is for a horse as dominant as Monashee. A strong case could be made that since Monashee is stretching out to a middle distance for the first time this year, 125 pounds is a significant amount of weight for her to be carrying. The last time she ran at Hastings carrying that many pounds going around three turns, she struggled home to narrowly beat What a Blurr in the 1 1/8-mile B.C. Cup Distaff. She also packed 125 pounds when she won the 1 1/16-mile City of Edmonton Distaff stakes by 5o1/2 lengths at Northlands last August. She'll be spotting the likely second choice, Starlite Strike, 12 pounds in the Strawberry Morn.

The trainer of Starlite Strike, Rob VanOverschot, wasn't pleased with the weights.

"I think Monashee should be carrying more weight," VanOverschot said. "She wins both of her sprints under wraps and we all know she's a better horse going long. The last time she carried 125 pounds going this far, she won by six. I was thinking of sending my horse to Alberta, but the next stakes there is short and I want to start stretching her out."

Memorial service held for Halket

A memorial service was held Wednesday for trainer Jim Halket, who died June 9. Halket, who was inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1987, was 92.

Halket took out his trainer's license in 1936 and in 1964 he became the trainer for Arthur Fouks, whose horses dominated the British Columbia racing scene in the mid-1960s. Westbury Road, who won 14 stakes at Hastings, was probably the best horse Halket ever trained. Nonetheless, Halket referred to Black Pool as the most "brilliant horse" that he was ever associated with.

Halket won the B.C. Futurity twice, and one of the horses, Frannie, a homebred filly, beat the great George Royal in the 1963 Futurity. Frannie was named after Halket's wife, Francis, who passed away in 1998.

After he retired from training, Halket stayed involved in the British Columbia racing industry as an active member of the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame.