07/06/2005 12:00AM

R. Associate's big win vindicates purchase


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A lot of people were surprised and some a bit critical when Garth Weeks shelled out $67,000 for R. Associate in the horses of racing age sale at Hastings in April.

After all, R. Associate, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old, was eligible to be claimed for $32,000 when he finished third at Gulfstream Park on March 26, and at the time, $67,000 seemed a pretty steep price for a horse whose last victory was in a $25,000 claiming race. It would be hard to find anyone questioning Weeks's decision following R. Associate's win in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors' at Hastings last Friday. R. Associate picked up $75,000 for the effort, and since being bought by Weeks, he has earned more than $95,000.

R. Associate is trained by Arnie Turner, and after the sale Turner was also wondering if Weeks had paid too much.

"Don't get me wrong, he's a good-looking individual," said Turner. "I really liked the horse and wanted to buy him. But I got a little concerned when the price kept going up. Garth wanted him, though, and I'm glad he didn't back down."

Turner said that R. Associate came out of the Lieutenant Governors' in excellent shape and that he will be pointed to the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

"I'm not sure what path we'll take to get there, but the Mile is our main goal now," said Turner. "After we get over enjoying the win in the Lieutenant Governors', we'll map out a plan."

R. Associate had a perfect stalking trip under Pedro Alvarado, and Alvarado thinks that we haven't seen the best of R. Associate yet.

"I thought he was a nice horse when I worked him just before his first race here, and he ran a good race, but he just couldn't catch Roscoe Pito, who had an easy lead," Alvarado said of a May 14 loss here.

"Then he ran another big race to just miss to Lord Nelson in the John Longden, and he really impressed me that day. But this was by far his best performance. I just hand-rode him down the lane and he was drawing away at the finish."

Quiet Cash was sent off as the 2-1 favorite and he might have been best. He didn't break very alertly and then made a big move to finish third.

"I think we lost about five lengths at the start and he only lost by two," said his trainer, Terry Jordan. "You do the math."

Jordan makes a good case, but it appeared that R. Associate had a lot left at the finish, and it is hard to say if Quiet Cash could have beaten him.

The connections of the second-place finisher, Roscoe Pito, were thrilled with his performance. It was the first time Roscoe Pito has ever looked comfortable sitting behind another horse. Roscoe Pito relaxed beautifully behind the pacesetter, Five Point Star, and then took over the lead at the quarter pole. He held a 1 1/2-length lead turning for home but couldn't handle the late move of R. Associate.

"That was an excellent race for him," said Roscoe Pito's trainer, John Snow. "We've been working on getting him to relax for a long time and it finally paid off. We have a lot more options now."

Snow said that Roscoe Pito will likely make his next start in the British Columbia Cup Classic on Aug. 1.

Changes coming for Timeless Passion

Jake Barton rode Roscoe Pito, and was also aboard 3-year-old Timeless Passion, who lost by a head to Alabama Rain in the Jim Coleman Province on Sunday. In midstretch it appeared that Timeless Passion was going to blow by Alabama Rain, but with Pedro Alvarado in the irons, Alabama Rain dug in and wouldn't let Timeless Passion get by.

"Roscoe Pito just got outrun, but Timeless Passion beat himself," said Barton. "I thought I had it timed right, but he just lost focus when he came alongside Alabama Rain."

"We're going to make some changes," said Timeless Passion's trainer, Carl Lausten. "We'll probably take the blinkers off for his next start. It's not the first time he's lost focus when it looked like he was going to win, but he's still learning, and I'm certainly not disappointed with his effort."

Alabama Rain is trained by Lance Giesbrecht, who said that Alabama Rain could be headed for Alberta.

"We're looking at the Canadian Derby, which is worth $300,000, and there's a prep race at Northlands about three weeks before the derby," Giesbrecht said. "If he goes for the prep we'll leave him there."

Bonnycastle new Jockey Club president

Dick Bonnycastle has been elected chairman of the Jockey Club of Canada, the organization announced Monday.

Bonnycastle, an owner-breeder who is from Calgary, has been a member of the Jockey Club of Canada since its inception by E.P. Taylor in 1973 and has previously served as a steward.

Racing under the under the black and white diamond silks of Harlequin Ranches, Bonnycastle campaigns in Canada, California, England and Australia. He replaces outgoing chairman Michael Byrne, who stepped down when his term expired after 10 years.

Byrne, a member of the organization since 1987, was instrumental in forming the Horse Racing Tax Alliance of Canada, a dual-breed industry association that continues to seek reform of Section 31 of the Canadian Income Tax Act.

He was also instrumental in creating the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee, which currently monitors 37 graded races in Canada.

- additional reporting by Bill Tallon