09/21/2006 12:00AM

Oaks true test for Chestnut Lady


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A contentious field of nine 3-year-old fillies meet in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hastings.

Chestnut Lady could be the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, but Sophie's Trophy, Langara Lass, and Starlite Strike all look like serious contenders. Plus, Real Candy, Hurry an Notis, and No Ka Oi all appear to have outside chances of pulling off an upset.

Trained by Jim Penney, Chestnut Lady is the one to beat off her last two races. She was a romping seven-length winner of the Kent Handicap at Emerald Downs July 23 and then missed by a head to She's All Silk in the 1 1/8-mile Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks on Aug. 19.

The B.C. Oaks will be the first time Chestnut Lady has raced on a track smaller than a mile in circumference, and Penney was pleased that he secured the services of the leading rider at Hastings, Pedro Alvarado.

Langara Lass, who comes out of the David Forster barn, appears to be peaking at just the right time. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Langfuhr, Langara Lass was the local 2-year-old filly champ in 2005 but got off to a slow start as a 3-year-old. She picked a good time to come around, though, winning the $100,000 Sonoma Handicap at Northlands Park Aug. 12 for her first win of the year. She's also worked extremely well since returning to Hastings.

"She's through with all of her cycles and she's doing very well right now," said Forster's assistant trainer Teri Forster. "Like a lot of fillies she seems to improve in the fall."

Anderson Ward will ride Langara Lass for the first time. He picked up the mount because he was the only jockey on the grounds when Forster sent her out for her final five-furlong move Monday morning.

"I'm in love with her," said Ward after the work.

Sophie's Trophy will appreciate what is likely to be a quick pace set by Hurry an Notis. In her last start, Sophie's Trophy finished a fast-closing second to Excited Miss in the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Sept. 2.

Starlite Strike won the $103,000 Northland Oaks July 22 but hasn't raced since. She was scratched after injuring herself in the starting gate in the Sonoma.

Hurry an Notis will be racing without blinkers for the first time this year, and her trainer, Tracy McCarthy, is hoping that the equipment change will help her relax on the lead.