05/22/2004 12:00AM

'Samarai' the obvious favorite

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Lord Samarai is the lone stakes winner entered in the $40,000 City of Vancouver Stakes on Monday at Hastings, and, as the 122-pound highweight in the 6 1/2-furlong race, he is a deserving favorite over six other 3-year-olds.

A homebred son of Yoonevano, he was named champion 2-year-old in British Columbia last year, and in his initial start at the current meet he was an easy winner in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race April 24. According to his trainer, Rob VanOverschot, Lord Samarai, who will be ridden by David Wilson, has progressed nicely and should run a big race Monday.

He will probably have to. Wings of an Eagle will be trying stakes horses for the first time, but he is an impeccably bred colt by $3 million earner Free House out of B.C. Oaks winner Ultimate Force. He was very impressive winning his maiden race in just his second start. Also, leading rider Pedro Alvarado has chosen to ride him over Nihilator, the second-most accomplished horse in the race.

* Regal Red will be a very low price over three other 3-year-old fillies in the first race on the card, the $40,000 Supernaturel Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Regal Red just toyed with her opponents in the Fair Lady Stakes on May 2, and in her only other start around two turns, she beat the 2003 local 2-year-old filly champ, Comic Opera, by more than 10 lengths. Trained by Robbie Anderson, she will be ridden by Frank Fuentes.