07/30/2005 12:00AM

Roscoe Pito a clear standout


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The $65,000 British Columbia Cup Classic headlines the nine-race B.C. Cup Day card at Hastings on Monday. This will be the 10th renewal of the B.C. Cup, which has become the biggest day of racing at Hastings.

Total purse money for B.C. Cup Day is $407,300.

Seven of the nine races are stakes restricted to British Columbia-breds and, while many of the races are competitive, Roscoe Pito appears to be a standout in the 1 1/8-mile B.C. Cup Classic.

A 5-year-old gelding, Roscoe Pito was the 2003 horse of the year in British Columbia. He won the Emerald Derby and the B.C. Derby, plus he beat older horses in the Grade 3 Premiers. Last year he won only one race, the John Longden 6000, but judging from his second-place finish to R. Associate in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors' on July 1, he appears to have taken a big step forward this year.

In the Lieutenant Governors', Roscoe Pito did something he had never been able to do - rate comfortably behind another horse. He looked completely relaxed when he stalked Five Point Star, and, according to his trainer John Snow, he just came up a bit short in his conditioning.

"He banged his head in the starting gate in the John Longden, so he didn't get as much out of the race as I would have liked," Snow said. "He's plenty fit now, and he worked a strong six furlongs last Sunday, so he's ready to run a big race."

Roscoe Pito will be ridden by Jake Barton.

Illusive Force looks like the only horse who has a realistic chance of beating Roscoe Pito but he will need to improve on his dull performance in the Lieutenant Governors', where he surprisingly never picked up the bit and finished a distant eighth. A 5-year-old homebred, he won this race last year, and judging from his third-place finish in the John Longden on June 4, he seemed to be on track to defend his title. In his last race, Illusive Force finished third in an allowance sprint July 17.

"We'll just call the Lieutenant Governors' one of those days," said his trainer, Rob VanOverschot. "He sharpened up nicely in his last start, and hopefully he'll run his usual race Monday."

Dave Wilson will ride.

Besides Roscoe Pito, Cour Joie is the only other horse with any speed and if his rider, Chad Hoverson, elects to send him, he could be the pacesetter.