10/07/2001 11:00PM

In Premier's, 'Secretary' another working-class hero


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Fancy As, who was purchased for $3,200 as a yearling and has gone on to win $488,720 should be the solid favorite in Sunday's $100,000 Premier's. One of the horses he will face was also a bargain buy.

Colonial Secretary, a gelding, was a $4,000 claim by trainer Rob Gilker in the middle of 1998 and has gone onto win more than $168,000 since. Colonial Secretary showed up at Hastings Park in 1998 with some pretty good credentials. He placed in the Grade 3 Gallant Fox at Aqueduct in 1996 and won a minor stakes at Laurel in 1997. He didn't shown a lot as a 6-year-old in 1998 and he lost by double digits in all four of his starts in Southern California. When he was put in for $4,000 in his first start at Hastings, Gilker thought it was worth gambling that Colonial Secretary had some life left in him and that he would make a solid marathon horse. He had no expectations that he would become a stakes horse and it certainly didn't enter his mind that he would win a stakes as a 9-year-old.

"I thought that he would be a handy claiming horse and his second in the Gallant Fox [1 5/8 miles] showed that he could run all day," said Gilker. Colonial Secretary went on to win two races for Gilker in 1998 and paid his way in 1999 with a win at the Premier's distance of 1 3/8 miles in a starter race. As an 8-year-old he won seven races, including a starter race on the turf at Golden Gate and earned $77,990. He's even better this year. Along with his win in the Churchill he won a $25,000 optional race Aug. 5 and then finished second in the S.W. Randall Plate Sept. 3.

"I never thought that he would win the Churchill," said Gilker. "I was hoping for third or fourth in the Randall and if he was lucky he might get second in the Churchill. They went pretty fast early and it just set up perfectly for him."

Gilker wasn't sure about running Colonial Secretary in the Premier's and almost entered him in a $50,000 optional race. "I'm picking up 12 pounds, Fancy As is dropping five off of his impressive race in the B.C. Derby, it seems like a lot to ask of him. But he's carried the weight before and we know he can handle the distance so why not take a shot."

Gilker was also hoping to run Nomisstaken Kris in the $125,000 Ascot Graduation Breeders' Cup, which is also scheduled to run Sunday, but wasn't sure if he was going to get into the 1 1/16-mile race. "He's still a maiden but the race doesn't look that tough and it looks like he'll improve going longer."

Gilker was considering heading back to California with Colonial Secretary and possibly Nomisstaken Kris. "Colonial Secretary is 9, so we just take it one day at a time, but if he's doing well we'll probably go."

The last 9-year-old to win a stakes at Hastings Park was Westchester Lane in the 1994 Victoria Day Handicap.

Supplements must pay up

There was a bit of contention when the Ascot originally closed with 19 nominations, including seven supplementary nominations. According to the conditions of the race, the $5,000 supplement was supposed to accompany the nomination. But in an effort to bolster the field, the Hastings Park Racing Office accepted the supplementary nominations without pay and informed the nominators that they only had to pay the $5,000 supplement if they chose to run in the race.

The British Columbia Racing Commission stewards gave an "official warning to the Hastings Park race office management for incorrectly advising the supplementary nominators to the race."

The stewards ruled that "although final nominations were due by midnight Oct. 3, nominators were misled and as of 10:45 a.m.on Oct. 4, any horses supplemented must either withdraw their nomination or the supplementary nomination fee of $5,000 is payable or due."

After the stewards issued their ruling four of the supplementary nominations were withdrawn. Haunting You, Philosophers Stone, and Lady Vye remain in the field.