08/04/2017 1:46PM

Neveradoubt sharp for Pacific Customs Brokers Classic

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Benoit & Associates
Neveradoubt won the Snow Chief in 2014.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – B.C. Cup Day was conceived in 1995, with races restricted to horses bred in British Columbia. It was an immediate success, becoming the biggest day in terms of handle and attendance at Hastings.

However, with fewer horses being bred in the province, it became difficult to get the quality cards of the first few years. The result is that B.C. Cup Day has become the B.C. Festival of Racing, featuring five open, $50,000 stakes races and just one race restricted to British Columbia-breds. The Festival begins with an exhibition race for 2-year-olds Monday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific.

Except for the three-horse exhibition race, it is a strong card with mostly competitive races, especially the featured Pacific Customs Brokers Classic for 3-year-olds and up. Considering the results of the past two Classics, Neveradoubt might be worth a look in the 1 1/8-mile race that drew 10 horses.

Prior to becoming the top older horse at Hastings last year, Calgary Caper, last year’s winner, was a mid-level claimer at Northlands Park in 2015. Square Dancer was basically a $25,000 claimer at Emerald Downs before his win in the 2015 Classic.

Neveradoubt didn’t win a race in 2016, and he closed out the year with a fourth-place finish in a $25,000 claiming race on turf at Del Mar.

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But he’s a sharp horse right now, having won a $25,000 claiming race for trainer Barbara Heads at Hastings on July 22. It was his second win at the meet and his first for Heads, who, on behalf of Mark and Patti Lesage, claimed him for $12,500 off trainer Greg Tracy on July 1.

With a win in the $200,000 Snow Chief, going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old in 2014, Neveradoubt has back class to call on.

“That’s one of the reasons we claimed him,” Heads said. “Greg seems to have turned him around, and with his history, I thought there was something we could build on. He also really likes it here.”

Neveradoubt will break from post 9 with Antonio Reyes aboard.

Pace will have a lot to do with the outcome. If Modern, trained by Dino Condilenios, is allowed to set the kind of fractions he did in winning the $75,000 Lieutenant Governor’s on July 1, he likely will repeat.

There is other potential speed signed on, however, and if a duel develops, it will increase the chances of Calgary Caper and Venetian Mask. With a third-place finish in the Lieutenant Governor’s, Calgary Caper appears to be rounding into form for trainer Phil Hall.

Venetian Mask, trained by Mike Anderson, was the runner-up in the Lieutenant Governor’s. He came from a stalking position to beat Modern by two lengths in the $50,000 John Longden.

The most likely winner Monday is Snuggles, who will be a short price in the Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares drew nine horses. The only horse to ever beat Snuggles going around three turns, Victress, will be running in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff at Emerald Downs next Sunday.

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Trained by Condilenios, Snuggles has herself as her main opposition. Because of her antics, she came close to injuring herself in the post parade prior to winning the $50,000 Strawberry Morn. She was better behaved, but not perfect, in the Monashee, where she took a two-length lead into the stretch but was nailed at the wire by Victress.

“At least she is going in the right direction,” Condilenios said. “She’s training well, and hopefully she’s okay on post parade.”

Snuggles will break from post 7 with her usual rider, Rico Walcott, aboard.

If there is going to be an upset, it may come from Victress’s stablemate Princess Katie.

After winning the $50,000 Irish Day at Emerald Downs in May 2016, the Rob Gilker-trained daughter of Finality didn’t make it back to the races until June 17 of this year, when she ran about a half-mile before packing it in going 6 1/2 furlongs in a $35,000 optional-claiming race at Hastings.

Princess Katie didn’t get much out of the race, but it wasn’t surprising when she made what looked like a winning move in the $50,000 Boeing Stakes at Emerald on July 16. A deep closer, she figures to build off her runner-up finish behind Citizen Kitty in the one-mile race, and with an honest pace expected, she won’t mind the shape of the Distaff.

◗ My Aunt Mo figures to be a short price in the 6 1/2-furlong Hard Rock Casino, which drew nine 2-year-old fillies. She was an impressive debut winner at Hastings for owner and trainer Glenn Todd on June 10, and with a better start, she might have won the $49,500 Angie C at Emerald Downs on July 16.