09/12/2007 11:00PM

Newton John in control

EmailVANCOUVER, British Columbia - Newton John will put his four-race win streak on the line when he faces four older horses in the third leg of the Marathon Series at Hastings on Saturday. Newton John figures to be heavily favored in the 1 1/2-mile feature, which carries a $20,000 purse. To be eligible to the series a horse must have started for an $8,000 claiming price or less in 2006-07.

Trained by Rob Gilker, Newton John has improved dramatically as a 5-year-old. Coming into 2007, Newton John had just one win to his credit, but this year he has won five races and hasn't been off the board in nine starts.

His first win this year was in a 6o1/2-furlong nonwinners-of-two $20,000 claimer in May. Following a third-place finish in another sprint, he has reeled off four straight route wins. He started his streak with a victory over James Creek Red in an $8,000 nonwinners-of-three going 1 1/16 miles July 2. He pulled off a huge upset when he came back to beat Brass Bard in the first leg of the marathon series at 1 1/8 miles July 21.

Gilker, who owns Newton John with his wife, Victoria, jumped Newton John up to $25,000, and he edged out Cusack Aug. 5. Newton John then led from start to finish to easily handle Cusack when they met in the second leg of the marathon series at 1 3/8 miles Aug. 25.

Chad Hoverson rides Newton John, and it appears that he'll be able to control the race from start to finish.