08/11/2010 2:07PM

Majority of meet titles remain up for grabs at Hastings

Four-Footed Fotos
Teide is the leader of the older handicap division but he needs to do more to secure his spot.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – After this weekend, there will be just 21 days of racing left at the current meet and most of, if not all, divisional championships are still up for grabs. The trainer and jockey races are still close enough that it is just a bit too early to award Troy Taylor his fourth straight trainer’s title, and Fernando Perez still has some work to do in order to repeat as leading rider.

The trainer and jockey races could be decided over the next few weeks, but not much will be decided regarding divisional honors for horses.

Most of the top horses at Hastings are heading out of town for major races at Emerald Downs and Northlands Park, and part of the reason is that Hastings management decided not to schedule any major races while the local fair at the Pacific National Exhibition grounds is run from Aug. 21 through Sept. 6.

The only stakes races at Hastings coming up are the restricted CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-olds – both divisions – Aug. 25. Open 2-year-olds will get their first crack at added money in the 6 1/2-furlong New Westminster on Aug. 26. The $50,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies goes the same day.

As is stands now, Teide is the leader of the older handicap division but he needs to do more to secure his spot. Trained by Dino Condilenios, Teide is coming off of a win in the $50,000 Lieutenant Governors on July 1 and is slated to make his next start in the, Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22 at Emerald Downs. Prior to the Lieutenant Governors, he was upset by Almost Time in the John Longden and he’ll need at least one more win here to defend his title.

Trick of the North, upset winner of the B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 2, also is heading out of town. He has been nominated to both the Longacres Mile and the $75,000 Speed to Spare on Aug. 21 at Northlands. Trick of the North, who upset Teide in the Grade 3 Premiers last year, would seem to be better suited for the 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare, and, according to his trainer, Barbara Heads, that will likely be his next start.

“We nominated him to the Mile, just in case it came up weak, and make sure you add, ‘ha ha’ to that” Heads said. “No, we’re looking at the Speed to Spare, and, if all goes well, that’s where he’ll make his next start. He came out of the Classic in great shape and he’s been training great. It is hard to believe, but he seems to be just getting better and better as a 9-year-old.”

Summer Song may have already wrapped up the older female championship with back-to-back wins in the Vancouver Sun and Strawberry Morn, but a win in the Grade 3 Ballerina goes a long way in voters’ minds, and she will probably need a win there to secure the title. Her trainer, Troy Taylor, is currently enjoying a working vacation at Del Mar, and according to one of her owners, Glen Todd, Summer Song will make her next start in the $75,000 Emerald Distaff at Emerald Downs on Aug. 22.

Taylor also trains Dyna Stroll, who is the current leader in the local 3-year-old division. However, he was upset by his stablemate Cherokee Notion in the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay, and they could separate themselves when they run in the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 21.

None of the local 3-year-olds have really stood out, but that could change in the Richmond Derby Trial on Sept. 6 and the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby on Sept. 26.

On the other hand, Dearest Princess and Otero have separated themselves in the 3-year-old filly division. They are going to meet in the $75,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs on Saturday and will likely renew their rivalry in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club here Sept. 6 and the $100,000 B.C. Oaks on Sept. 25.

Taylor is well on his way to a fourth straight trainer’s title, but with a lot of his stars running out of town in the next month, there could be an opportunity for Craig MacPherson to close the gap. Taylor has 34 wins at the meet, seven more than MacPherson.

MacPherson isn’t optimistic about his chances of catching Taylor, however. He just doesn’t think he has the bullets.

“Let’s just put it this way,” he said. “I’m playing with BB guns and he’s using UZIs.”

Fernando Perez enjoys an 11-win lead over Richard Hamel in the jockey’s race – 58 to 47 – and he will be tough to catch. Taylor’s main rider, Mario Gutierrez, also is at Del Mar, and Perez will pick up a lot of mounts in the barn. Perez also rides for MacPherson, and, according to DRF’s Formulator, one of the best bets at Hastings is when he is riding one of MacPherson’s horses – 34 percent winners, with a $3.37 return on investment since the start of the meet.