08/21/2008 11:00PM

Next weekend's stakes coming up strong


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The fun and games of the annual fair that takes place on the same site as Hastings is just about over, and that means it is time to get serious about horse racing. Next weekend features four stakes races, all of which are shaping up to be excellent races.

Saturday features a stakes doubleheader with the Honk Kong Jockey Club for 3-year-old fillies and the PNE Presidents Speed for 3-year-olds and up. The Richmond Derby Trial goes Sunday, and on Monday Spaghetti Mouse heads the 1 1/8-mile Randall Plate for 3-year-olds and up.

The most important races are the Honk Kong Jockey Club and the Richmond Derby Trial, which serve as preps for two of the most important races on the Hastings stakes calendar: the Grade 3, $125,000 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sept. 20 and the Grade 3, $250,000 British Columbia Derby the next day.

Dancing Allstar and Remarkable Miss head the list of nominations for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Dancing Allstar, the top 2-year-old filly in Canada last year, is coming into the Hong Kong Jockey Club off two losing races. It was no disgrace for her to finish third to Indyanne in the Azalea Stakes at Calder on July 12. After all, Indyanne ranks as one of the best sprinters in North America.

What is puzzling is Dancing Allstar's seventh-place finish in the seven-furlong Duchess Stakes at Woodbine on Aug. 9. It was the first time in her nine-race career that she finished worse than third. What was especially surprising is that she set rather slow fractions and then didn't put up any kind of fight when collared in midstretch. Her trainer, Terry Jordan, doesn't know what to make of her subpar performance.

"Maybe all the traveling got to her," Jordan said. "She shipped all the way from Vancouver to Florida and then back up to Ontario and it may have thrown her off of her game."

Jordan said Dancing Allstar is slated to arrive in Vancouver on Monday.

On the other hand, Remarkable Miss is coming into the race on a roll. She didn't run her best race but she was still good enough to win the Supernaturel Stakes by a head over Juvee Hall on July 5. In the B.C. Cup Dogwood Stakes on Aug. 4, she scored a convincing four-length win over Infinite Wealth. As sharp as she is, Remarkable Miss could hold an edge over Dancing Allstar in the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Her trainer, Barb Heads, however, is more concerned about having her ready for a big effort in the Oaks three weeks later.

"You're always in a race to win, but we have tried to keep the longer picture in sight, which is the Oaks," said Heads.

"Every time we've sent her out there we told Frank to save a little horse," Heads added, referring to Remarkable Miss's usual rider Frank Fuentes.

Heads has a lot of respect for Dancing Allstar and knows Remarkable Miss will have to run a solid race to beat her.

"She's obviously the horse to beat and she has been a tremendous filly," said Heads. "We aren't going to kill Remarkable Miss in order to beat her next weekend, though. The good thing about Remarkable Miss is that we can take her off of the pace and let her make one run."

Krazy Koffee likely favorite in Trial

The Richmond Derby Trial is shaping up as an intriguing race. Krazy Koffee figures to be favored. He has won the last two stakes for 3-year-olds at Hastings and he appears to be getting better every time he runs. His trainer, Cindy Krasner, has done a great job of developing him into a top notch 3-year-old.

As good as Krazy Koffee has been, he could have his hands full with Forest Prince.

Trained by Troy Taylor, Forest Prince is coming into the Trial on a two-race winning streak and like Krazy Koffee, the more he races the better he gets.

Forest Prince has won both of his starts at Hastings, and he beat Ookashada, an older multiple stakes winner of $359,000, in his latest start. He did it with style, finishing full of run after his rider, Chad Hoverson, had to work hard to settle him behind a slow pace.

Hoverson is the usual rider of Krazy Koffee and he will stick with Krazy Koffee for the Trial. Hoverson also rides Texas Wildcatter, who was expected to be favored in Saturday's Canadian Derby. The guess is that Texas Wildcatter will be Hoverson's mount in the B.C. Derby. Texas Wildcatter also comes out of the Troy Taylor barn.

"Forest Prince is a nice horse but it was an easy decision to ride Krazy Koffee in the Trial because I can't ride both of Troy's in the derby anyway," Hoverson said. "Don't sell Krazy Koffee short, though. He's getting better every time he runs and who knows how much better he's going to get."

According to Taylor, Forest Prince could be a much better horse than he has shown.

"His back was really bothering him after his first start here," said Taylor. "We have done quite a bit of work on him and it's really paying off. For all I know he might be as good as Texas Wildcatter."

If he is, there will be a very short-priced entry in the B.C. Derby.