08/05/2004 12:00AM

More ups than downs on B.C. Day

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - By just about every measurement, B.C. Cup Day was a major success at Hastings last Monday. There were thrilling finishes in five of the races, particularly the Classic. Additionally, 3-year-old filly sensation Regal Red and 4-year-old filly Dancewithavixen once again demonstrated their superior ability with easy wins in their respective races.

While ontrack handle was up by 9 percent, overall handle was down by almost $650,000 because California didn't take the simulcast signal this year. Regardless, Hastings new chief operating officer and vice president Michael Brown said he was pleased.

"It was a great day," he said. "We're trying very hard to increase our ontrack attendance and handle and the numbers speak for themselves. I think we took great strides forward, and I'm looking ahead to bigger and better things here."

The Classic was the highlight of the day with Illusive Force winning by a nose over a determined Lord Nelson. At the sixteenth pole it appeared Lord Nelson was going to win his third B.C. Cup Classic, but his early duel with Roscoe Pito and the 123 pounds he was carrying - nine-more than the winner - caught up to him, and he tired noticeably in the final yards. Nevertheless, it was still a very brave effort.

For Illusive Force, it was his first major win since the 2002 Jack Diamond Futurity. His quest to win the Queen's Plate last year apparently took a lot out of him, but he seems to be back in top form now. His connections, owner Canyon Farms and trainer Rob VanOverschot, also had to sweat out a photo with Lord Samarai, who won the 1 1/16-mile colts and geldings division of the Stallion Stakes by a head over Louie Downtown.

"Those were good races for both of them," VanOverschot said. "Illusive Force ran a much improved race in his previous start, and he seems to be completely back now."

VanOverschot said Lord Samarai will make his next start in the $250,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 28. Although it appeared that Lord Samari hung after making the lead at the top of the stretch, VanOverschot isn't worried about him going longer in the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby.

"You have to be careful about timing your move with him," he said. "He really wants to run at something, and I think he was just waiting for someone to run with."

VanOverschot wasn't sure where Illusive Force would run next, but the $100,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands on Sept. 11 is a possibility.

Jockey David Wilson was aboard both of the VanOverschot horses. He also guided the 2-year-old filly Backseat Becka from off the pace to win the B.C. Cup Debutante. It was the first stakes win for trainer Terry Clyde and the $60.20 mutuel was easily the largest of the day.

Trainer Dino Condilenios was disappointed that Lord Nelson didn't win the Classic, but he did saddle the winner of the Sprint, Five Point Star.

Notis Otis, with Chris Loseth aboard, proved his win in the Ladnesian stakes was no fluke with a neck decision over 6-5 favorite Speed Victor in the 6 1/2-furlong B.C. Cup Nursery Stakes. He's undefeated in three starts and is clearly the leader of the 2-year-old colts and geldings division at Hastings.

"He came out of his race bouncing," trainer Tracy McCarthy said. "Our major goal now is the Jack Diamond Futurity. I'm not sure when he'll run next. We'll just have to try and keep him on the ground until then."

The futurity will be run Sept. 14.

What more can you say about Regal Red? Once again she won as she pleased - by six lengths - and her final time for the 1 1/16-mile fillies division of the Stallion Stakes, 1:44.65, was better than Lord Samari's, 1:45.36. The time would have been considerably faster if her rider Frank Fuentes had let her run down the stretch.

According to her trainer, Robbie Anderson, she will likely make her next start in the Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks where she will carry scale weight of 119 pounds, five less than Monday. The Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks will be run at Emerald Downs on Aug. 21.

"Her shins were bothering her a little after the race, but they've been a small problem all year so it shouldn't stop her from running in the Oaks," Anderson said.

The only dark spot on the day was when Dancewithavixen was pulled up shortly after winning the Distaff by 7 1/2 lengths and had to be vanned off the track. But, according to her owner and trainer Tom Longstaff, she's fine and will be pointed toward the $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup on Oct. 11.

"We were terrified, but it was just her check ligaments bothering her," he said. "It's something that will heal with time and she should be fine by the Ballerina. If not, we'll turn her out and maybe bring her back next year."