07/22/2008 11:00PM

Ookashada's revival comes just in time

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Toni Cloutier was relieved to see Ookashada win a $50,000 optional race going 1 1/16 miles last Sunday. It was the first win for Ookashada since the B.C. Cup Stellar's Jay on Aug. 6, 2007. It was also one of the most exciting races at Hastings all year, with the photo-finish camera separating Ookashada, Enforcement, and Seminole Brave.

Ookashada looked like he was going to finish out of the money at the top of the stretch, but with Mario Gutierrez aboard, he made a strong late move in the middle of the track and got up just in time.

A 4-year-old gelding by Millenium Allstar, Ookashada was the champion 2-year-old in British Columbia in 2006. He was the top local 3-year-old at Hastings following his third stakes win of the year in the Stellar's Jay. But when Sir Gallovic burst on the scene in mid-summer, Ookashada relinquished that role. Following the Stellar's Jay, Ookashada ran a very good race to finish third in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, but he closed his 3-year-old campaign by finishing off the board in his final three starts.

Prior to his win on Sunday, Ookashada showed signs of life with a third-place finish behind race winner Bank Emblem in a $50,000 optional race on July 1.

"It was very gratifying to see him win again," said Cloutier.

Nominations for the seven stakes races that make up B.C. Cup Day on Aug. 4 close this week. Cloutier was planning on nominating Ookashada to both the $100,000 Classic and $50,000 Sprint.

"We'll see what the owners want to do," Cloutier said. "We might just keep running him in allowance and high-priced claiming races. Right now we're leaning towards running him in the Classic. We'll see who nominates and then make our final decision next week."

Two options for Seminole Brave

Trainer Mel Snow is also undecided about which B.C. Cup race Seminole Brave will run in. A Florida-bred gelding by Exchange Rate, Seminole Brave was stretching out for the first time last Sunday, and after setting a pressured pace, he gave way grudgingly to lose by just a neck to Ookashada. He was coming off of brilliant win in a first-level allowance sprint going 6 1/2 furlongs on July 20.

"I was very pleased with his race," said Snow. "It was his first time going long, and he showed me that he's more than just a sprinter. I think he could have won the race if he hadn't been stuck down on the rail the whole way. I have a pretty open mind about which race he's going to run in. We'll take a look at the nominations and the weights, and go from there."

Sprint likely for Enforcement

Trainer Juan Olmos appears quite sure he will to run Enforcement in the Sprint. A 5-year-old horse by Tiznow, Enforcement was stretching out for the first time when he chased Seminole Brave the whole way and held on well.

"I am going to nominate him to both, but I'm really thinking of running him in the Sprint," said Olmos. "He ran a pretty good race, but I just think he's a better sprinter."

Olmos is also going to nominate Distorted Glamour to the Sprint. Distorted Glamour will provide speed if he runs, but he will be a bit of a longshot. A California-bred 4-year-old gelding, Distorted Glamour set the pace before tiring in Seminole Brave's impressive win on July 1. It was only his fourth start.

Olmos will definitely saddle one favorite on B.C. Cup Day - El Sinaloense, who will be odds-on to win the $50,00 Nursery. El Sinaloense was an easy winner of the Ladnesian Stakes July 13, and there doesn't appear to be any 2-year-old on the grounds that can warm him up.

Sihota shuts down till next year

Apprentice jockey Natasha Sihota has decided to pack it in for the rest of the year. Sihota, 24, couldn't have gotten off to a much better start to her career.

She won four races, finished second three times, and third once in 11 mounts. By not riding the rest of the year, she will be able to retain her apprentice status for close to two full racing seasons.

Once an apprentice wins her fifth race, she can ride for a full year with a weight allowance. Because of the cold weather in Canada, there aren't any Thoroughbred tracks open during most of the winter. If an apprentice doesn't ride in another country during that time, she is granted an extension. In Sihota's case, the extension would be equal to the amount of time that Hastings is closed between meets, which is roughly five months.