08/30/2006 11:00PM

Oaks prep tough spot for favorite


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Excited Miss will try and make it four straight stakes wins when she tackles a tough field of 3-year-old fillies in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club at Hastings Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile feature is the final prep for the Grade 3 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks Sept. 23, and it drew seven horses.

Trained by Barb Heads, Excited Miss is clearly the leader of the local 3-year-old filly division, and a win Saturday would stamp her as the early favorite for the Oaks. But with the speedy Hurry an Notis in the field, the shape of the race could favor Sophie's Trophy.

Excited Miss has been close to the lead in all of her wins, and when she had to deal with quick fractions in the B.C. Cup Dogwood Stakes Aug. 7, she tired noticeably, beating a fast-closing Miss Me Not by three-quarters of a length. Heads doesn't seem that concerned about the possibility of a quick pace.

"The only time she's really been up on the pace is when it's been really slow," she said.

Pedro Alvarado will ride Excited Miss.

A quick pace would help Sophie's Trophy, but her trainer, Janet Armstrong, isn't so sure that is what's going to happen. "Who's going to run with Hurry an Notis?" she asked.

Sophie's Trophy, who won her first three starts including the Langley Stakes here and the Irish Day Handicap at Emerald Downs, comes off of a third in the Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks.