10/03/2001 11:00PM

Nicola Wright makes a splash


VANCOUVER, B. C. - It took a while for apprentice Nicola Wright to get her North American riding career started, but once it began she wasted no time making her presence felt.

Wright, a 24-year-old native of Wales, rode for the first time at Hastings Park on Sept. 29 and won with her second mount, guiding the Darryl Snow-trained Quins Return wire to wire against $5,000 fillies and mares.

Wright returned Sunday and brought the Michael Turner-trained B. B. Bunny from far back to score a $23.80 surprise in the day's sixth race.

"I couldn't be more pleased," said Wright, a 10-pound apprentice who tacked 101 pounds aboard B. B. Bunny. "I'm also a little surprised. I didn't expect to be riding so soon after I came to the track."

Wright rode briefly in England in 1998 and 1999, winning a total of two races. She moved to Los Angeles last January and galloped horses for trainers Bob Baffert and Nick Canani, then shifted to Hastings Park when she felt she was ready to begin riding again in May.

"There was a delay in getting my work permit, so I just hung around some of the farms in the area and did what I could," she said. "I finally got to come on the track last week, and I thought I would gallop horses and get fit, then maybe ease into riding a little. But my agent, Wayne Snow, started lining up mounts for me right away and we were off to the races. I didn't even have time to think about it."

Wright hasn't had time to think about her future plans, either. She intends to ride as many horses as she can the remainder of the meet, then assess her situation.

"I really don't know what my options are," she said. "I know one thing, though. I want to come back here next season and ride the whole meeting. I really love it here. I like the track, I like the people, and I like the area."

Alvarado makes plans for next year

Pedro Alvarado, who suffered a severe concussion and facial lacerations in a spill at Hastings on Sept. 12, attended Saturday's B. C. Derby program as a spectator. Alvarado, who is still the meet's third-leading rider with 82 wins, said he will not ride again at this meeting, but intends to ride at Hastings next year.

Alvarado, a regular at Washington tracks for many years, began riding at Hastings when he was denied re-entry to the United States after a riding stint in Macau. U.S. immigration officials barred Alvarado, a Mexican national who is married to a U. S. citizen, from re-entry because of a misdemeanor conviction in New Hampshire in 1987, a decision that Alvarado is fighting to have overturned.

"I want to have the option to go to the U. S., but I think I'll continue to ride here no matter what happens," he said. "We sold our house in Seattle and my family moved here to be with me. We all like Vancouver."

* Last week's Oregon Thoroughbred Association Fall Mixed Sale, held on the infield at Portland Meadows, saw 75 horses sell for an average price of $2,205. That average was up 34 percent from last year, while the median price of $1,900 represented an increase of 55 percent. The sales topper, a yearling colt by Jumron out of Bon Genre, was purchased by Art McFadden for $9,500 from the consignment of Peterson Thoroughbred Bloodstock.