06/27/2014 12:17PM

Mr. Bowling has sharp form going into Lieutenant Governors’ Handicap

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Title Contender, shown winning the Sir Winston Churchill on June 8 at Hastings, returns to that track in Tuesday's Lieutenant Governors' Handicap.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Mr. Bowling appears to be coming around, and that could be bad news for the six horses who will line up against him in the $50,000 Lieutenant Governors’ Handicap on Tuesday at Hastings. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up headlines four stakes on the eight-race Canada Day card.

Mr. Bowling made his first start in the Pacific Northwest in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile last year, breaking a step slowly and never really getting involved. He had been purchased by Glen Todd and Mark Dedomenico following his second-place finish in the $101,900 Golden Bear Stakes at Indiana Downs for trainer Larry Jones.

He appeared to have a bright future when he won the Grade 3 Lecomte in his first start as a 3-year-old but couldn’t handle the jump in class when he tried Grade 2 company in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. After beating just one rival in the Louisiana Derby, he was given the rest of the year off.

[Canada Day: Get PPs, watch Tuesday's card live]

Mr. Bowling also was given the rest of the year off following his disappointing effort in the Longacres Mile, and it looks like he could be ready for a peak performance in the Lieutenant Governors’ Handicap. In his first start back for trainer Mike Puhich, he earned a 78 Beyer Speed Figure for his second-place finish in a six-furlong allowance race April 20 at Emerald Downs. He improved his Beyer to an 88 when he finished fourth as the favorite in the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap going 6 1/2 furlongs May 18, and then boosted it again with a 91 in the one-mile Budweiser on June 15, where he made the lead at the quarter pole before succumbing to Stryker Phd in the stretch while finishing a clear second.

Mr. Bowling is the kind of horse who should do well at Hastings. He has good speed but doesn’t need the lead, and if he handles the tight turns well, he could do a lot of damage in the Lieutenant Governors’ with Mario Gutierrez aboard.

Mr. Bowling will be making his first start for trainer Troy Taylor.

“He arrived here Thursday, and he looks great,” said Taylor. “He’s won on three different tracks, so I think he’ll be fine here.”

Along with his Grade 3 win at Fair Grounds, Mr. Bowling won a maiden special weight race and the $84,000 Dover Stakes as a 2-year-old at Delaware. He also won an $80,000 optional claimer at Churchill Downs prior to his big effort in the Golden Bear.

Thursday wasn’t the first time Taylor had seen Mr. Bowling.

“I never got to run him, but I had him in training at Golden Gate this winter,” said Taylor. “He was training like a good horse, and I would rank him right up there with our best horses.”

That’s saying a lot considering that Taylor was comparing him to horses like Commander, who has dominated the older handicap division at Northlands over the past three years, and Taylors Deal, who beat Title Contender in the John Longden 6000 in his only start this year. Title Contender figures to be sent off as the favorite in the Lieutenant Governors’ Handicap.

With sharp form coming into the race – and considering that over the past five years Taylor has a 36 percent strike rate with new shooters running in non-graded stakes, according to DRF ’s Formulator – Mr. Bowling could give Title Contender all he can handle Tuesday.

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