09/14/2007 12:00AM

Sangara is 'Dreamin' of derby

EmailVANCOUVER, British Columbia – Owner K.K. Sangara has tried to win the $250,000 British Columbia Derby four times and so far has been unsuccessful. Last year Sangara came close with Ok Nothanksforaskn. Sent off as the favorite, Ok Nothanksforaskn finished a close third to race winner Halo Stevens, who pulled off a shocking upset. This year, Sangara might have the horse that will get him over the top.

Celtic Dreamin, owned by Sangara and trained by Rafael Becerra, looks like a good one, and lately he's developed a running style that wins races at Hastings.

Celtic Dreamin has won 4 of his 5 starts, and since he stretched out to a middle distance he's shown much more tactical speed. In his first three starts he came from well off the pace. When he raced around two turns for the first time in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming race at Hollywood Park on July 8, Celtic Dreamin had the lead at the six-furlong mark and held on well to lose to Latin Rhythms by a nose. Latin Rhythms came back to finish third in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar, then won the El Cajon at Del Mar. In Celtic Dreamin's latest win, in an entry-level allowance race at Del Mar on Aug.o22, he was never more than 1 1/2 lengths from the lead, and he took control at the top of the stretch.

Becerra claimed Celtic Dreamin partly at Sangara's urging.

"I didn't have anything to do with picking him out," said Sangara. "But the day Rafael claimed him I had called him earlier to bug him about a 3-year-old he had claimed for $32,000 for another client when he knew I was looking for a 3-year-old. The next thing I know, he claims Celtic Dreamin for me - and I'm glad he did."

That horse is My Man Murf, who has won nearly $100,000 since Becerra claimed him, and won the Derby Trial at Fairplex last start.

Celtic Dreamin has also been an excellent claim. He won the race he was claimed out of, and in his next start at Hollywood Park on May 18, he came from 15 lengths behind to win a $40,000 starter race. He ran an odd race to win a 7 1/2-furlong Cal-bred entry-level allowance race at Hollywood on June 14. He showed early speed, but dropped back to seventh going around the stretch turn. But jockey Alex Solis kept after him, and he rallied to win by a neck.

"You can do whatever you want with him," said Becerra. "He came flying when he broke bad going six furlongs, and now you can have him near the pace if you want."

Sangara thinks the horse to beat in the derby is Sir Gallovic.

"I wouldn't be afraid of Sir Gallovic if he came down to California to run against us," he said. "But he's been very impressive in his two starts here, and who knows how Celtic Dreamin will handle the smaller track?"

Celtic Dreamin is a California-bred, but he has a strong B.C. connection. His dam, Astral Dreamer, was bred in B.C., and she won races at Hastings. Also, she is a full sister to 1995 B.C. Derby winner Flying Sauce.

"I noticed that after we got him," said Sangara. "But it didn't have anything to do with claiming him."

Sangara plans to bring Gerry Olguin out here from Woodbine to ride Celtic Dreamin in the derby.

Time runs out for Holy Nova

Trainer Troy Taylor was hoping to saddle the favorites for both the B.C. Derby and the Grade 3 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks, which goes next Saturday. Sir Gallovic will certainly be one of the favorites in the derby, but it looks like Taylor has run out of time with Holy Nova.

Holy Nova was purchased by Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella after she won a $75,000 optional race at Belmont on July 11. Taylor said she was going to work this weekend, but it will be her first work since she ran.

"She's missed too much training to be ready for the Oaks," he said. "She hurt her eye and they sent her to the same clinic Barbaro went to. She was in the same van as Rags to Riches, so hopefully something will rub off on her. We'll look for a race for her and try and have her ready for the Ballerina."

The Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup goes Oct. 13.

Bettor's $6.5 million lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by Elmer Patzer claiming Hastings Entertainment and Great Canadian Gaming Corp. owe him $6.5 million will be heard in court on Oct. 1.

According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, Patzer said that on Nov. 6, 2004, he fed 25 betting vouchers into an automated tote machine and the machine issued him a voucher worth $6,553,600 - which isn't being honored.

"We feel it's completely without merit," said Chuck Keeling director of racing for Great Canadian. "This happened before we started co-mingling our pools, and it's impossible to have those kind of winnings. It was a computer malfunction, and that doesn't entitle him to the money."

Patzer, who has owned and bred horses, is the father of Mark Patzer, a retired jockey who set a record for wins in a meet at Hastings in 1991 when he rode 173 winners.