08/04/2017 3:56PM

A. P. Zona will audition for BC Derby favoritism in Churchill Derby Trial

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A. P. Zona won the 2017 River Rock Casino Handicap at Hastings.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A. P. Zona, the presumptive local favorite for the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby on Sept. 9, will try to strengthen his case in the Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial Handicap at Hastings on Monday.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds is one of five $50,000 stakes on the holiday card, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Pacific.

Originally, six stakes were to make up the 10-race B.C. Festival of Racing card. However, not enough horses were entered in the $50,000 New Westminster for 2-year-olds. Instead, a $25,000 allowance race for 2-year-olds will kick off the festivities. Because all three horses in the 6 1/2-furlong dash are owned and trained by Glenn Todd, it will be an exhibition race with no wagering.

There is a $25,000-guaranteed pool for the late pick four, which begins in the seventh race.

:: Get bonus PPs for Monday's late pick four at Hastings

Trained by Phil Hall, A. P. Zona has been perfect in three starts at Hastings. After winning back-to-back $50,000 sprint stakes for 3-year-olds in the Jim Coleman Province and River Rock Casino Handicap, he finished with a rush to beat older horses in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race July 16. It was his first try going around three turns, and with a plethora of speed in the Derby Trial, the race should set up nicely for him.

Hall is expecting another solid effort from the son of Creative Cause.

“He’s doing great,” Hall said. “No reason he shouldn’t run a good race. It should set him up perfectly for the Derby.”

A. P. Zona will break from the rail in the eight-horse field with usual rider Enrique Gonzaler aboard.

Strate Remark romped the only time he went a middle distance in the $75,000 Ascot Graduation in his final start as a 2-year-old but was late arriving to trainer Cindy Krasner’s barn at Hastings this spring.

He didn’t make his first start of the year until June 4, when he finished fifth in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Stakes at Emerald Downs. In his only other race this year, the son of Sungold was in the mix early before finishing fourth in the River Rock Casino.

He will be making his first start for trainer Craig MacPherson.

“It’s tough to catch up to horses that have been running,” MacPherson said. “I really liked his last two works though, especially his seven-furlong one.”

MacPherson was referring to his 1:24.80 move July 20 with leading rider Richard Hamel aboard.

Strate Remark will break from post 2 with Hamel riding.

Trainer Mel Snow appears to have Driller primed for a big effort. After finishing second to A. P. Zona in the Coleman Province and River Rock Casino, the son of Texas Wildcatter romped in a $35,000 optional-claiming race July 23. In his only route attempt, he was the runner-up to Strate Remark in the Ascot Graduation.

Good Luck to You seeks upset

Hall thinks he has a chance of upsetting Daz Lin Dawn in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club with Good Luck to You. The 1 1/16-mile Hong Kong Jockey Club is the final local prep for the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks on Sept. 9.

Good Luck to You is coming off a 6 1/4-length win over Eco Charge in a $35,000 optional-claiming race July 22. A week earlier, with Amadeo Perez riding, she finished more than 14 lengths behind Daz Lin Dawn while going a middle distance for the first time in the $50,000 Supernaturel Handicap.

“Amadeo tried to rate her in the Supernaturel, and I don’t think she liked it,” Hall said. “She was full of herself, so I brought her back in a week and told Amadeo to let her run her race.”

Good Luck to You will break from post 2 with Perez aboard.

Breaking directly to her inside is Daz Lin Dawn, who is well deserving of the 126 pounds she has been assigned in the 1 1/16-mile race that drew five.

Trained by Nancy Betts, the daughter of Popular swept the first four stakes races for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings this year and was well in hand when she worked five furlongs with her usual rider, Hamel, aboard July 28.

“She’s so sharp right now, she needed something to do,” Betts said, referring to the work.

She just laughed when Hall, who is her fiancé, said he was going to beat her.

“We’ll see,” she said.

Yukon Belle was the last horse to beat Daz Lin Dawn, and she did it going 1 1/16 miles in the $75,000 Fantasy last year.

Trained by Barbara Heads, Yukon Belle was the runner-up behind Daz Lin Dawn in the Supernaturel.

“She was coming off a layoff in the Supernaturel, and I was proud of the way she dug in,” Heads said. “She’s training well, but Nancy’s filly is a big horse, so I am pretty sure she will be able to handle the 126 pounds.”

Yukon Belle is second in the weights at 116 pounds.