05/24/2007 11:00PM

Rivals take aim at Spaghetti Mouse


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Michael Turner thinks Forceful Intention has a very good chance of upsetting Spaghetti Mouse in the John Longden Stakes at Hastings on Sunday.

Forceful Intention ran a huge race to finish second to Canadian champion True Metropolitan in the George Royal Stakes on May 5. It was his first start since he finished second as the odds-on favorite in an allowance race last November.

He was stakes-placed twice last year, finishing behind Seven Secrets in the Richmond Derby Trial and to Luhuk's Dancer in the Derby Consolation. Turner thinks he's a much better horse this year.

"I think he's a very nice horse," said Turner. "He was a little unlucky last year. He got a little sick when we shipped him to Alberta, and he also blew a shoe coming out of the gate and he banged up one of his sesamoids."

Turner was referring to Forceful Intention's fifth-place finish in the Hoofprint on My Heart Stakes at Stampede Park last May.

Forceful Intention was turned out following the Hoofprint on My Heart and then resurfaced in a $75,000 optional claimer on Aug. 20. He won and paid a handsome $41.30.

Turner said Forceful Intention was never really on top of his game following the trip to Alberta, though.

"We got him back to the races but he was never really 100 percent," he said. "His sesamoid was flaring up all year and he still ran pretty good. I think he'll show he's a lot better horse this year. He got beat by a very nice horse in the George Royal and I'm certainly not going to complain about that."

Forceful Intention hasn't won going the Longden distance of 1 1/16 miles, but he finished second in three straight races at the distance. In both the Richmond Derby Trial and Derby Consolation, he held the lead going into the stretch but had to settle for the minor award.

"I'm not concerned about the distance," said Turner. "We couldn't train him the way we wanted to last year, and it's a whole different story now. I have a lot of confidence that he'll be fine stretching out."

Alexandersrun fresh and ready

Trainer John Snow also thinks his Longden horse Alexandersrun is good enough to run with the best stakes horses at Hastings. A 5-year-old gelding, Alexandersrun hasn't won since he beat Norm's Nephew in the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby in 2005. He was one of the favorites in the B.C. Derby but broke slowly and never really got close to Spaghetti Mouse, who scored a huge upset.

After his seventh-place finish in the B.C. Derby, Alexandersrun was sent to Southern California, where he might have lost a bit of confidence. He finished up the track in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita and also wasn't much of a factor in the Grade 2 Strub, finishing 25 lengths behind the winner, High Limit.

After a disappointing season last year, with a second and a third from nine starts, Alexandersrun was given the winter off. Snow thinks the time off has done him a world of good.

"It was the first break he's really had since he started racing as a 2-year-old," said Snow. "It was a much-needed break, and he's been training great this year. The freshening has done him really well."

Snow also thinks he might have discovered something when Alexandersrun finished a fast-closing third to Luhuk's Dancer in an allowance sprint May 12.

"I don't think he wants to be covered up," said Snow. "We're learning more about him all the time. He's a fresh horse and he's ready to go. I think he'll be a solid handicap horse here."

It's Spaghetti Mouse's race to lose

Of course, the horse they have to beat in the Longden is Spaghetti Mouse - and if he runs his best race, they won't. That's a big if, though. This year, like last year, Spaghetti Mouse comes into the Longden off a fast-closing third in the George Royal. In the 2006 Longden he was very rank and never really got into contention, finishing a distant third.

"He seems to be a lot more settled this year," said his trainer, Edward Sams. "He wanted to get into a speed duel in the Longden last year, but I don't think that's going to be a problem. His best distance is a mile and an eighth, but I would have to think he's still pretty live action on Sunday. I'm not taking anything for granted, though. I've already got a couple of favorites beat and anything can happen. That's why they don't just mail you the check."

Sams also reported that both Restless Lady, who finished second in the Emerald Downs Stakes here last Sunday, and Chelsey's Image, fourth, came out of the race in good shape.

"There's no stakes here until July, so hopefully an allowance race will fill for them before then," he said.

The next stakes race for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings is the $50,000 Supernaturel on July 7. At 1 1/16 miles, the Supernaturel is the first middle-distance race for the division.