08/03/2005 11:00PM

Roscoe Pito at his best in B.C. Cup

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Easily the largest crowd of the year turned out Monday for British Columbia Cup Day, and Roscoe Pito, in the B.C. Cup Classic, treated them to an outstanding performance.

Roscoe Pito was the local horse of the year in 2003, but he won only a single race last year. A 5-year-old gelding, he hinted that he might be coming back to his best form with a very good second-place finish to R. Associate in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors' July 1. He looked as good as ever with a dominating win in the B.C. Cup Classic.

Both his trainer, John Snow, and jockey, Jake Barton, thought Roscoe Pito would stalk Coeur Joie in the B.C. Cup. That all changed when Roscoe Pito broke sharply and found himself alone on the lead.

"I don't think I've ever had a horse break out of there so strongly," said Barton. "He was just full of himself, and since he made the lead so easily, I just kept him there. We weren't going that fast, and I had a ton of horse the whole way."

Snow said that Roscoe Pito came out of the race in great shape, but he was not sure where he would start next.

"I sent him to the farm, and he's just bucking and squealing there," said Snow. Snow said that Roscoe Pito will probably start next in the Randall Plate on Aug. 28, "but he's going so good that the Longacres Mile is in the back of our minds."

The Longacres Mile will be run Aug. 21 at Emerald Downs.

With Monday's victory, Roscoe Pito has now earned $563,740 - not bad for a horse who cost only $4,700. He paid $2.90 as the odds-on favorite.

Anderson adds to lead

Trainer Robbie Anderson won two races on the day, and he is also the all-time leading B.C. Cup trainer, with seven wins.

He sent out Commodore Craig ($5.70) to win the Sprint, and he also saddled the winner of the fillies division of the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes, Slewpast ($5.50).

Both horses were the second choice in the wagering.

Anderson was especially pleased with the win by Commodore Craig, who was all out to beat a very game Five Point Star by a neck.

"He tries so hard every time, and he's just been so unlucky not to have won more races," he said. "It's been a long drought between stakes wins for him."

Commodore Craig will likely make his next start in the Hastings Speed on Aug. 21.

Frank Fuentes rode both of Anderson's winners, and he gave Slewpast a very confident ride. Slewpast broke on top, but Fuentes said he was happy to let her stalk Regal Pusher, who set a moderate pace.

"She improved a whole lot after her last race," said Fuentes. "She was happy to relax behind the other one and she loved the track. She's just getting better and better."

Anderson said that Slewpast would use either the Washington Oaks or the Sonoma Stakes at Northlands as a prep for the $150,000 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sept. 4.

Anderson's sister, trainer Barbara Heads, saddled the winner of the Debutante, Excited Miss.

Alabama Rain to Canadian Derby

At $2.80, Alabama Rain was the shortest-priced winner of the day. With leading rider Pedro Alvarado aboard, Alabama Rain won the colts and geldings division of the Stallion Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths over He's So Regal.

Lance Giesbrecht, the trainer of Alabama Rain, said the 3-year-old son of Vying Victor is headed to Edmonton to run in the $300,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 27.

Smooth sailing for Socorro County

Socorro County won the Distaff by 3 3/4 lengths and according to her jockey, Robert Skelly, "She had a dream trip."

That could be an understatement. Victor's Secret and Socorro County were standouts in the field, and when a very sharp Victor's Secret got involved early while going three wide around the first two turns, it was pretty clear that Socorro County, who was sitting comfortably about 2 1/2 lengths behind the dueling leaders, was going to be the winner.

David Forster trains Socorro County, and he said that she would likely make her next start in the $75,000 Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park on Aug. 28.

For the second year in a row, trainer Terry Clyde sent out the longest-priced winner of the day. Last year she won the Debutante with 29-1 shot Backseat Becka, and this year she topped that with Lukin Awesome, who won the Nursery and paid $72.10.

Total handle for the day was $1,367,287, easily the largest of the year, and despite one fewer race, handle was up by more than $200,000 over last year.

"It was a great day," said Michael Brown, general manager of Hastings. "There was an infectious buzz, and I'm proud of the work everyone did to make it work so well."

Stein checking out Woodbine

Leading apprentice Justin Stein will ride at Woodbine next week. He is accepting mounts for Wednesday and Thursday, but he will return to Vancouver to ride at Hastings on the weekend.

"I'm going to leave for Toronto Sunday night," said Stein. "I just want to see what it's like back there. Hopefully I'll get to ride a race on the turf course."

Booking mounts for Stein will be Tom Patton. He is also the agent for Jono Jones, who will begin serving a three-day suspension on Wednesday after withdrawing his appeal of an earlier stewards' ruling.

Stein said he would likely pick up most of Jones's mounts while he is at Woodbine.