05/20/2009 11:00PM

MacPherson gets off to great start

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Against the Sky should improve when she stretches out for her next race.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Anyone making a $2 win bet on the nine horses trainer Craig MacPherson ran over the three days of racing last weekend at Hastings would have grossed $40.70, for a net profit of $22.70. MacPherson won five races and moved up to third in the trainer standings with eight wins at the meet. Troy Taylor and Dino Condilenios are tied for the lead with nine wins apiece.

MacPherson is coming off a successful year in 2008, when he won 33 races at Hastings and four more in Alberta. Like a horse with ascending Beyer Speed Figures, MacPherson appears to be coming up to a peak performance. His total wins beginning in 2004 are 11, 18, 20, 30, and a career-best 37 last year. With 8 wins from his first 26 starters he is on pace to post a higher number this season.

"It's been a good start," said MacPherson. "Part of the reason is that I've had a few maidens that can run a bit and they ended up in the right spot. It's nice to have one of those weeks where everything goes right and it certainly makes up for some of the weeks when everything goes wrong. We'll take it when we can because it's a very competitive meet here."

MacPherson is looking forward to bringing a couple of his stars back to the track. Against the Sky, who was the champion older filly or mare in the province last year, and Arkhill, the 2008 Alberta Derby winner, have been taking it easy at Canmor Farms for the past few weeks.

Against the Sky ran a dull race to finish fourth in the 6 1/2-furlong Brighouse Belles in her second start of the year. She didn't figure to win the sprint stakes, but MacPherson was expecting a better race. Against the Sky has never lost a race at 1 1/16 miles or longer and she figures to be a major player when she stretches out. MacPherson said she wouldn't be back in time for the 1 1/16-mile one Senate Appointee on June 7, however.

"I just wanted to give her a little break and let her regroup a bit," said MacPherson. "I want to get them both back to the races as soon as possible. One win by either of them counts for a quite a few of the others."

Arkhill hasn't raced since he won an allowance race at Hastings on Nov. 2. Arkhill followed up his Alberta Derby victory with a win in the Ky Alta Stakes at Northlands Park on July 12. He was the morning-line favorite for the Grade 3 Canadian Derby but was a late scratch when he was found to be colicky the morning of the race. MacPherson said he turned Arkhill out this year because of a problem behind.

"It seems like something to do with a muscle," said MacPherson. "Letting him stroll around on the farm should help him recover a bit faster than keeping him in here. He's been the biggest joy, but it's also been a bit frustrating. He usually fires his shot when we take him over there so we just have to be patient with him."

Arkhill won all three of his starts at 2 and the only time he has finished worse than second was in the Grade 3 B.C. Derby. It was a pretty gutsy fourth-place finish, however. Arkhill had been off for more than two months and had missed some training due to colic.

Concert Music successfully steps up

Concert Music proved her impressive win in a $15,000 maiden claiming race on May 2 wasn't a fluke when she came back to cruise to a six-length win in a $50,000 optional race last Saturday.

"She's the real deal," said her trainer, John Snow. "She trained for the first time Wednesday morning, and she went really well, so it's all systems go. I don't know when she'll run back, though."

Snow was also pleased with the sharp win by Tribal Teen in a maiden special weight race in the second race on Saturday. Tribal Teen ran a very fast 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.75 to beat Mcarthur by a half-length.

"We call him Hitch," said Snow. "He has a bit of a hitch in his get-along. . . . He kind of picks up his back leg when he's walking. But he doesn't do it all the time, and it certainly doesn't bother him when he's running."

Snow said Tribal Teen would make his next start in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes on June 14.

"It should be a good spot for him," said Snow. "Pop Artist and Almost Time aren't eligible for the race and I think they are the best 3-year-olds here right now."

Both Pop Artist and Almost Time are trained by Dino Condilenios, who isn't sure when either of them would run next. Almost Time won the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province on May 9 and Pop Artist won a $50,000 optional race last Sunday. It was Pop Artist's second straight win at the meet.

"Pop Artist needs a little time off now," said Condilenios. "He's had two hard races in a row and we'll let him freshen up a bit before we bring him back."

Almost Time isn't eligible for the Sales Stakes and there aren't any races for him here until the $50,000 Chris Loseth Stakes on July 1.