09/08/2016 2:56PM

Opportunistic storming into British Columbia Derby

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Four-Footed Fotos
Opportunistic wins the Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial on Aug. 22.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There are nine horses entered in the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Saturday. However, it is hard to get past Opportunistic in the 1 1/8-mile race that headlines the richest card in the Pacific Northwest.

The Derby is supported by the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks, the $75,000 S.W. Randall Plate, and the $75,000 Delta Colleen for fillies and mares. Throw in the two finals of the $50,000 Starter Championship Series, and there is more than $500,000 on the line on the nine-race card. Post time for the Derby is 4:57 p.m. Pacific.

Opportunistic has thrived since he shipped from Santa Anita to trainer Troy Taylor’s barn at Hastings in June. Making his first start for Taylor in the $50,000 Chris Loseth on July 1, he rallied into a very slow pace to win the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. Showing it was no fluke, he won the $75,000 Emerald Downs Derby in his next start July 31. In a thriller, he hooked up in midstretch with the previously undefeated Barkley in the 1 1/8-mile race, and they dueled to the wire, with Opportunistic winning by a head.

Following his win in the Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial, there wasn’t any doubt he was going to be favored to win the signature race at Hastings.

Despite Opportunistic being able to overcome slow early fractions in both of his wins at Hastings, Taylor and owner Glen Todd were concerned that he would get stuck behind a moderate pace in the Derby. Todd owns Opportunistic in partnership with Mark Dedomenico. To remedy the situation, they planned to use Sorryaboutnothing as a rabbit. However, when Sorryaboutnothing worked a sizzling five furlongs out of the gate in 58.60 seconds last Sunday, they reassessed his chances.

In his last start and his first for Taylor, Sorryaboutnothing broke poorly and never really got involved in the Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park. Blinkers were added for the work, and he will be wearing them when he breaks from the rail with Antonio Reyes aboard Saturday.

“It looked like he was just galloping out there, so I was surprised when I heard the time,” Taylor said of his impressive work. “He just might get out there and keep going. Opportunistic is a pretty nice horse, though, and is clearly the one to beat.”

Opportunistic will break from post 2 with usual rider David Lopez aboard.

KEY CONTENDERS

Opportunistic, by Sky Mesa
Last 3 Beyers: 72-86-74

◗ He is perfect in this neck of the woods and was conceding weight when he won the Derby Trial. He figures to be a handful with all nine starters carrying 126 pounds.

Sorryaboutnothing, by Repent
Last 3 Beyers: 56-71-82

◗ His best race was on turf when he finished third to Dressed in Hermes in the $79,000 Pasadena at Santa Anita in early March. Dressed in Hermes recently finished third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, and Sorryaboutnothing may have been trying to tell us something with his impressive move last Sunday.

Always Sunny, by Sungold
Last 3 Beyers: 77-66-59

◗ He was making just his third start and was stretching out to a middle distance for the first time when he lost by two lengths in the $50,000 B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay.

◗ He is a full brother to two-time B.C. Cup Classic winner Brass and Gold, so he could thrive with the added distance.

◗ His trainer, Barbara Heads, won the B.C. Derby twice, and one of her winners, Majesticality, paid $82.60.

“I know how to pick my spots,” Heads said. “Other than Opportunistic, this is a pretty weak Derby, and I think he’ll like the distance.”

Moon King, by Malibu Moon
Last 3 Beyers: 60-53-76

◗ He was trending in the right direction before getting blown away by Grade 1 Travers runner-up American Freedom in the $100,000 Sir Barton at Pimlico on May 21.

◗ He should move forward in his second start back after finishing fifth in an allowance race at Northlands Park for trainer Greg Tracy on Aug. 20.

The Accuser, by Flower Alley
Last 3 Beyers: 66-64-58

◗ Trained by Rob Chabot, he is coming off a third-place finish in the Canadian Derby and may have won the 1 3/8-mile race if he didn’t go five wide around the final turn while the winner was getting through along the rail.

Stanz in Command, by Second in Command
Last 3 Beyers: 70-78-71

◗ The four-time stakes winner trained by Charlene Miller should be rolling late with leading rider Richard Hamel aboard.

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