09/24/2003 11:00PM

Roscoe Pito may have big future, but where he'll go next is unclear

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The two-length margin that Roscoe Pito held over Steady Smiler at the end of the Grade 2, $326,750 British Columbia Derby is a bit misleading. Yes, he was being asked by rider Pedro Alvarado, and "driving" is the correct term to describe his win. However, it appeared that he was running quite easily at the finish and would likely have repelled any challenge, had there been one. Alvarado, who was aboard the British Columbia-bred Roscoe Pito for the first time, concurred.

"He ran big," he said. "Although he was going head and head with Bold Texas, he was very relaxed, and when I asked him to run I had a lot of horse. There was a lot left at the end also."

For the second year in a row, a member of the Snow family won the derby. Last year, trainer and part-owner Daryll Snow won the most prestigious race in British Columbia with Cruising Kat, and this year it was his nephew John Snow, trainer and part-owner of Roscoe Pito. Cruising Kat was a big surprise and hasn't won since, but Roscoe Pito was the favorite and appears to have a big future ahead of him.

"He came out of the race in great shape," John Snow said. "We haven't made up our minds about what we're doing with him. We've had a tentative offer on him, but nothing has been confirmed yet."

Raylene's next start undecided

It's also uncertain where Raylene, an impressive winner of the $169,612 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks, will start next. Raylene stated her case for the Sovereign Award as Canada's best 3-year-old filly with a thrilling stretch run to nip Dancewithavixen at the wire. She had been stuck on the rail for most of the trip, but her jockey, Rickey Walcott, wheeled her out midstretch, and she he kicked into high gear.

"She never gives up," Walcott said. "She felt a bit intimidated down on the rail, but once she was clear, she really took off."

Raylene is based in Alberta, and in her previous start she beat the boys in the Canadian Derby.

"We just haven't made up our minds yet," said her trainer, Rodney Haynes. "She just arrived back home [Thursday], and she seems fine. We'll nominate her to the Ballerina, and if she's doing well we'll probably come back, but right now we're not making any concrete plans."

Raylene was quite a bargain for her owner, Calmar Stables and Ranch. It paid $10,000 for her as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2001, and she has earned more than $425,000. The timing of the sale probably contributed to her owner's ability to get a daughter of Tabasco Cat for such a low price.

"It was just a week or so after Sept. 11, and I'm sure it kept a lot of potential buyers away," said Haynes.

If Raylene does return to Hastings for the Grade 3, $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup on Oct. 11, she'll likely face Dancewithavixen again. Dancewithavixen's owner and trainer, Tom Longstaff, wouldn't mind a rematch.

"Don't get me wrong," he said. "We got beat by a very nice filly, but I wouldn't mind another crack at her."

At the top of the stretch it appeared that Dancewithavixen, with Felipe Valdez aboard, was on her way to her sixth straight win, but a couple of things might have been against her. The track was rated fast, but it was dead and favored horses coming from off the pace. Plus, according to Longstaff, Dancewithavixen wears three-quarter-cup blinkers and didn't see Raylene coming.

"She's won all of her races so easily that she probably thought the race was over midstretch," Longstaff said. "Felipe was doing everything to keep her focused, but she kind of stalled. When she saw her go by her at the wire, she rebroke and took off again. I'll open her blinkers up a little for her next start and see if that helps keep her focused."

Futural headed for Premiers

Sir Winston Churchill winner Futural, trained by Steve Bryant, hadn't crossed the finish line first since being disqualified in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in 2001. He's likely to make his next start in the $100,000 Premiers on Oct. 12.

"He thinks he's something special again," said his owner, Kim Hart. "We're looking forward to running him in the Premiers."

Futural finished second in last year's Premiers.