08/08/2006 11:00PM

Notis Otis, Lord Nelson put on quite a stretch duel


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Spaghetti Mouse won the biggest race of the day in the $108,408 B.C. Cup Classic on British Columbia Day at Hastings. Notis Otis, however, captured the hearts of the estimated 10,000-plus fans in attendance on Monday with a game win in the Sprint.

The rousing win by Notis Otis over Lord Nelson in the Sprint, which went as the second race, set the tone for the day as most of the seven stake races on the card were fiercely fought and weren't decided until the final few strides.

Because of the two horses involved in the stretch-long duel in the Sprint, it was impossible to eclipse the drama that unfolded there.

From 2001 to the middle of last year, Lord Nelson has been the horse to beat every time he has been in a race at Hastings. Notis Otis was the champion 2-year-old in 2004 and then almost died when he came down with a virus after he shipped to Alberta for a stakes race for his first start last year. He has won eight of 10 starts at Hastings and just guts it out every time he runs.

In the Sprint, Notis Otis, with Mario Gutierrez aboard, stalked a moderate pace set by My Master and went to the front at the quarter pole when My Master surprisingly gave way. It appeared that Notis Otis was beaten when Lord Nelson made a big move to take the lead at the top of the stretch. Like always, however, Notis Otis fought back bravely and regained the lead just before the wire. The roar of the crowd was so loud you couldn't hear the call of announcer Dan Jukich.

Lord Nelson is trained by Dino Condilenios, who had nothing but praise for both horses.

"It's kind of like the passing of the torch," he said. "They're both pretty classy horses that just don't want to get beat."

Condilenios said that the 9-year-old Lord Nelson would be turned out for the remainder of the year.

"We'll bring him back for the early sprints next year, but I don't want to run him long any more and there's nothing left for him here," he said.

According to trainer Tracy McCarthy, Notis Otis was his usual "wild self" following the race.

"He's an amazing horse," she said. "Especially considering how much he's gone through. I don't think people realize just how close he was to death last year. He just loves being a racehorse. He was bucking and squealing after the race and he came out of the race in great shape."

McCarthy also won the Distaff with heavily favored Monashee ($2.40). Monashee noticeably tired in the stretch under high weight of 125 pounds, but she was still able to hold off a late charge by What a Blurr.

"She was very tired after the race and also the next day," said McCarthy on Wednesday. "It was probably a combination of the heat and the weight. She's back to her old self this morning though."

McCarthy said that Monashee might make her next start in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff at Emerald Downs on Aug. 20.

"It's possible, but I'm not absolutely sure if we'll bring her back that soon," she said. "I know one thing: She won't carry 125 pounds going a mile and an eighth again."

Notis Otis is nominated to the Longacres Mile on the same day, but according to McCarthy he probably won't run.

Randall Plate next for 'Mouse'

Trainer Gary Demorest ranked his three stakes wins on the card as the second-best day in his career. Along with Spaghetti Mouse in the Classic, Demorest won the Debutante with Chelsey's Image and the Stellar's Jay with He's Quite a Guy.

"It will be tough to beat winning the [B.C.] derby with Spaghetti Mouse last year," he said. "The derby is the race here and who knows if I'll ever have a horse good enough to win it again."

Spaghetti Mouse, who was ridden by Dave Wilson, looked like a winner every step of the way in the Classic. He broke sharply and then stalked a moderate pace set by Roscoe Pito. He was never threatened after taking the lead at the quarter pole.

"Davie did a great job of getting him to relax behind the other horse," said Demorest. "He can be pretty headstrong, but Davie seemed to have him under control the whole way."

Demorest said that Spaghetti Mouse would remain at Hastings for the rest of the year and would make his next start in the S.W. Randall Plate on Sept. 4.

Two tough beats for Sangara

Next to the Sprint the most exciting race on the card was the Stellar's Jay. He's Quite a Guy and Seven Secrets hooked up after six furlongs and then ran head and head the rest of the way. It could have gone to either horse but He's Quite a Guy's head was down at the right time.

For K.K. Sangara, who owns Seven Secrets, it was the second heart-breaking loss in a stakes race Monday. At Woodbine, his Financingavailable got nipped at the wire in the Grade 3 True North Stakes.

"It was tougher to watch Seven Secrets lose because I was here," said Sangara. "He was trying so hard that he stumbled just inside the sixteenth pole and it might have cost him the win. Financially, it hurt more losing at Woodbine because she's earned over $500,000 and it would have increased her value considerably if she had become a graded stakes winner."

Seven Secrets is trained by Harold Barroby.