09/02/2005 11:00PM

Notis Otis continues comeback

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - When Notis Otis came close to dying just a few months ago, it was hard to imagine him running in the Grade 3, $250,000 British Columbia Derby. Nevertheless, if he runs well in the $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial at Hastings Monday, he'll be one of the favorites in the derby on Sept. 24. It will take a good race to win the 1 1/16-mile Richmond Derby Trial as a very strong field of nine 3-year-olds has been entered.

Notis Otis has won 5 of his 6 starts at Hastings, and in his lone defeat he was nosed out by Canadian Derby winner Alabama Rain in his final race last year. A homebred son of Stephanotis, Notis Otis made his 3-year-old debut in the Presidents Handicap at Stampede Park May 7, and had a rough trip and finished out of the money. When he arrived back at Hastings, he contracted a virus that nearly killed him. After a lengthy recovery, he came back with a strong performance to win a three-horse allowance race Aug. 14.

Pointing to a sensational five-furlong work in 58.80 seconds Aug. 30, his trainer, Tracy McCarthy, said she expects Notis Otis to run a good race Monday.

"I was shocked when I heard the time of the work," she said. "He was well within himself."

Justin Stein rides Notis Otis.

Appearance Fee looks like the main threat to Notis Otis. Appearance Fee won the Langley Handicap in his first start at Hastings Aug. 14.