07/10/2007 11:00PM

Saanichton has hurdles to overcome

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Saanichton should be favored but he's no standout in what looks like the most competitive race at Hastings Friday, an $8,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds and up that drew 11 horses. Only 10 will get to start in the 6 1/2-furlong event.

Saanichton, who is trained by Dave Miburn, almost won a similar race May 26, finishing second by a half-length. He jumped up to face $20,000 nonwinners of two in his next two starts and both times he ran well, finishing third June 9 and fourth June 30.

There are a couple reasons to bet against Saanichton Friday, the first being that the race doesn't have much early speed, which will probably hurt him. He's also won just 1 race in 24 career starts. Saanichton will be ridden by Chad Hoverson.

Mario Gutierrez, who rode Saanichton in his last three starts, will ride Rupert Storm. Trained by Troy Taylor, Rupert Storm figures to improve in his second start of the year. He closed strongly to finish third going 6 1/2 furlongs in an $8,000 nonwinners of two July 1, his first start since August.

The same could be said for Chivago, who showed more speed than usual and finished in front of Rupert Storm July 1. He hadn't raced since Oct. 29. If he can get a clear lead Friday, he could be very tough to catch.

Another Hurricane finished fourth, beaten 6 3/4 lengths in that July 1 race, and he might have been closer if he didn't have to wait for racing room when he was full of run heading into the second turn.