09/29/2006 12:00AM

Nechako comes off sharp stakes win


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Nechako heads a strong field of Canadian-foaled 2-year-olds in the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity at Hastings on Sunday.

Nine have been entered in the 6 1/2-furlong feature, and although there are plenty of contenders, Nechako is clearly the one to beat.

Nechako, owned and trained by Sid Martin, deserves to be favored off his sharp win in the New Westminster Stakes on Aug. 27. The horse who finished second, Thesaratogaexpress, came back to win the CTHS Sales Stakes on Sept. 10, and he beat many of the horses Nechako will face in the Futurity.

A B.C.-bred son of Vying Victor, Nechako started his career at Assiniboia Downs, where he won a maiden special weight race July 7. He came back with a good effort in the Winnipeg Futurity, where he closed strongly to finish second. Nechako also came from slightly off the pace in the New Westminster, and with plenty of speed to run at in the Futurity, the race should set up nicely for him.

Nechako will be ridden by Rohan Singh.

Ookashada is still a maiden, but he battled through very quick fractions and held on well to finish a close third to Thesaratogaexpress in the CTHS Sales Stakes. His trainer, Toni Cloutier, was impressed with his race.

"I was surprised that he kept running," said Cloutier. "He was also getting banged around a bit, so he really showed a lot of heart to run as well as he did."

Ookashada, who will be ridden by Pedro Alvarado, could be very dangerous if he gets clear. With Frosty Finish likely coming out of the race, he will probably be the one they're chasing.

"We'll just let Pedro decide if he wants to put him on the lead or not," said Cloutier.

Trainer Gary Demorest has entered two horses, and both look very live.

Mountain Musician closed strongly to finish second in the CTHS Sales Stakes, and Dylan's Prospect just missed to True Colour when he debuted in a maiden special weight race Sept. 17.

"I think Dylan's Prospect could be more horse, but I kind of like Mountain Musician a bit more on Sunday because he's had more experience," said Demorest.

Born to Be Bad appears to be coming around again for trainer Ed Thompson. Born to Be Bad won the B.C. Cup Nursery on July 9, but then finished last in the New Westminster Stakes. He moved forward in the CTHS Sales Stakes and has worked sharply since.