05/17/2006 11:00PM

Spirit to Spare earns a vacation

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Spirit to Spare beat a couple of very tough horses in Monashee and Regal Red in the Vancouver Sun Stakes last Saturday at Hastings.

It's not all that surprising that Spirit to Spare, who is trained by Tom Longstaff, won the 6 1/2-furlong Sun, paying $10.30. After all, she had won all six of her previous starts at the distance, and in her last start at Hastings she cruised to an easy 3 3/4-length win in the Brighouse Belles on April 15.

Nevertheless, she was coming off of a dismal ninth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the M.R. Jenkins Memorial Handicap at Stampede Park on April 30 and her strong performance in the Sun was a dramatic turnaround.

The 5-year-old Spirit to Spare was ridden by Felipe Valdez, who was a little surprised by her sharp win.

"She had excuses in Calgary," he said. "She broke bad and went wide but, really, she just wasn't herself.

Speaking of the Sun, Valdez said: "Actually I thought that when Monashee came up to her approaching the quarter pole that she might get beat. But she just dug in and wouldn't let her get by. I thought she might be a little tired after the trip to Alberta and back, but she's just a very game horse."

Longstaff said that Spirit to Spare was going to get a much-deserved rest following a successful winter campaign in Southern California, where she won a $50,000 claiming race and finished third behind Behaving Badly in the Grade 3 Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita.

"She came out of the race just fine," he said. "But she doesn't really want to go long and there aren't any sprints here until the Cover Girl in August. The grass is starting to grow on the farm so we'll let her graze for a while and bring her back in about six weeks."

Longstaff said that Spirit to Spare would be turned out at Cliff Baldwin's farm in Abbotsford, a suburb of Vancouver.

Final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was a good 1:16.66. Spirit to Spare earned $30,000, which brought her total earnings to $201,608.

Monashee, who was the horse of the year in British Columbia in 2005, looked like she was going to blow by Spirit to Spare at the quarter pole, but, despite a game effort, she just couldn't get by. It was her first start since she won the Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup last Oct. 15 and her trainer, Tracy McCarthy, was thrilled with her performance.

"That was her first race of the year and she was running against a very good sprinter who was racing fit," said McCarthy. "Now she gets to do what she does best, which is route. I couldn't be happier with the way she ran."

McCarthy said that Monashee "came out of the race fantastic," and would be pointed to the 1 1/16-mile Strawberry Morn Stakes on June 10, where she figures be a heavy favorite.

David Wilson was aboard Monashee for the first time and he was impressed with her performance. He also had praise for Spirit to Spare.

"You can't take anything away from Spirit to Spare," he said. "She set very fast fractions and she just went on with it. That was a gutsy performance. But my filly is going to be very hard to beat next time. That was a pretty strong race for a horse that's been off for as long as she has."

Injury forces Regal Red to retire

Regal Red, who got off to a bit of a slow start and finished fourth, has been retired.

Trained by Robbie Anderson, Regal Red was nothing less than sensational in her career. She started a total of 10 times, won 7 races, including 6 stakes, and the only time she finished worse than second was in the Sun.

Regal Red was coming back from a saucer fracture and, according to Anderson, the injury reappeared in the same spot.

"I guess there's just a weakness there," he said. "We probably should have retired her after she did it the second time. She seemed to be doing so well since we brought her back but I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

Regal Red retired with career earnings of $195,481.

Anderson has a half-brother to Regal Red named Undersecretary in his barn. He's a 3-year-old gelding by Vying Victor, and Anderson likes the way he has been progressing lately, recording a five-furlong workout in 59.20 seconds on Tuesday. In his only start at 2, Undersecretary finished a distant last in a maiden special weight race Aug. 28.

"Hopefully he can take up some of the slack with his sister gone," said Anderson. "He's been slow to develop but he's been really figuring it out lately. He had a very good five-furlong work Tuesday and it looks like he's ready to go."