06/08/2006 12:00AM

Slewpast looking for place in the sun

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Slewpast will try to gain some of the respect she certainly deserves when she takes on Monashee in the Strawberry Morn Stakes at Hastings on Saturday.

Slewpast, who won five stakes races in 2005, has not only lived in the shadow of her more illustrious stablemate, Regal Red, but when she was a 3-year-old last year, most of the headlines related to her division went to Monashee.

It's not surprising Monashee received all of the attention. She was only the second horse to win both the Grade 3 Breeders' Cup Oaks and Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup, and she was named 2005 local horse of the year.

Part of the reason Slewpast, who is trained by Robbie Anderson, was somewhat overlooked in 2005 is that she didn't run in the Oaks or Ballerina. After winning the British Columbia Cup Stallion Stakes on Aug. 1, Slewpast started tying up in the mornings and was given some time off to recover. Anderson couldn't get her ready in time for either of the major races for females at Hastings.

"We couldn't quite figure it out," he said. "So we gave her a few weeks off, and the rest did her good, as she came back fine. It was just too late to have her ready for the Oaks, though. We shipped her to Alberta for a stakes in the middle of October, and she won, but the season was pretty much over by then."

Anderson was referring the the 6 1/2-furlong Chariot Chaser Handicap at Northlands Park, which Slewpast won by a widening 1 1/4 lengths.

In her 2006 debut, Slewpast finished a dull fifth in the Brighouse Belles but then came back to be just a half-length behind Monashee, finishing third in the Vancouver Sun. Both races were won by the crack sprinter Spirit to Spare.

"She just didn't handle the muddy track in the Brighouse Belles," said Anderson. "I was very pleased with her race in the Sun, though. She had trained well leading up to it, and she ran like she had been training."

Anderson knows it will be a tough task to beat Monashee on Saturday.

"Monashee ran a big race in the Sun, and I know she's training well," he said. "My filly is doing pretty good too, so she should make a race out of it."

Few conclusions from stakes

It's hard to say if the Jim Coleman Province really told us very much about the local 3-year-old division.

Halo Steven was a relatively easy winner over Outrageous Limit, and Mighty Cahill ran a very good race to finish third. Nevertheless, the interior fractions were so slow - 24.51 and 49.46 seconds - that it would have been a real surprise if Halo Steven, who along with Potrero Station set the pace, had not won. Halo Steven came home pretty quickly, though, and the final time was a good 1:45.88 over a track rated good. Despite the strong finish, Terry Jordan, the trainer of Halo Steven, seemed a bit underwhelmed by what appeared to be a strong performance.

"If he couldn't win after setting those kind of fractions, I would have been very disappointed," Jordan said. "He should have come home quickly, and he did, so I'm still not sure how good he is."

Halo Steven will likely make his next start in the $125,000 Alberta Derby June 17. He will be coupled with My Guy, who has won the last two stakes races for 3-year-olds at Stampede Park.

"He seems to have come out of the race in good shape," said Jordan. "I'm not sure exactly when we'll leave for Alberta, but that's the race we're aiming for."

Mighty Cahill has also been nominated to the Alberta Derby, but his trainer, Harold Barroby, was noncommittal about where Mighty Cahill would start next.

Stakes written for California claimers

A big difference with the 3-year-old division this year is that local owners have gone out and bought or claimed potential B.C. Derby horses a lot earlier than normal. Usually the buying spree that takes place every year for derby horses happens in midsummer. That has not been the case this year, and because of the early interest, the local 3-year-old division is much deeper than usual. Both Halo Steven and Outrageous Limit were brought up from California, and four of the seven horses entered in Saturday's third race, dubbed the Import, were claimed out of races in California.

Because of a rule in California that says claimed horses can not run outside of California until 60 days after the meet they were claimed from closes - unless it's a stakes race - the Import was put up as an extra to accommodate the many recent claims out of California. The Import carries a $25,000 purse, and since owners have to ante up $250 to run and another $250 to pass scratch time, technically it's a stakes race.

The likely favorite in the Import is Funky Friends. A Kentucky-bred, Funky Friends was claimed at Hollywood Park for $80,000 by Swift Thoroughbreds on Dec. 15 and was sent to the Hastings barn of trainer Dino Condilenios.

"He had a few problems when he arrived," said Condilenios. "Nothing too serious, though, and he seems to be over them."

Funky Friends has posted Beyer Speed Figures of 92 on two occasions, and if he runs anything near his best race, he is going to be an easy winner.