07/02/2008 11:00PM

Taylor has pick of two


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Troy Taylor isn't sure if both Holy Nova and Lady Raj will start in Saturday's $50,000 Vancouver Sun Handicap for fillies and mares at Hastings.

Either horse would likely be a strong favorite to win the 1 1/16-mile race, the co-feature on a nine-race card with the $50,000 Supernaturel. If they both start, Taylor's coupled entry will go off as a prohibitive favorite.

Holy Nova has won both of her local starts this season with Monashee-like ease. She cruised to a 3 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Brighouse Belles on May 10 and came back to dominate the Senate Appointee at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 31. There's only one knock on Holy Nova - all six of her wins have come in sprints.

Her third behind Somethinaboutlaura in the $75,000 Campanile Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields on New Year's Day stacks up pretty well against this field, however. Somethinaboutlaura is a Grade 2 stakes winner with more than $1.1 million in earnings.

On the other hand, Lady Raj is a proven route horse and couldn't have been more impressive in her 7 1/2-length win over Wind Storm in the 1 1/16-mile Strawberry Morn on June 15. Lady Raj didn't win a race last year, but she did finish second to Monashee in the Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup and the Delta Colleen.

"I haven't made my mind up about which one or if both will start," said Taylor. "Holy Nova runs over any kind of surface, so more than likely she's going to run. If it comes up a bit wet I might look at a race in Alberta for Lady Raj."

Mario Gutierrez has been named to ride both horses.

Starlight Strike could be the main threat. Trained by Rob VanOverschot, Starlight Strike won the B.C. Cup Distaff last August and then was turned out for the remainder of the year after injuring herself in her stall. She began this season at Assiniboia Downs, where she finished fourth in the six-furlong La Verendrye Stakes on June 1.

"She was back there because they have an Aquasizer," said VanOverschot, referring to underwater treadmill equipment. "She's only been back here for about 10 days and she seems to be doing fine. I haven't really pushed her, though."

Three-peat for Spaghetti Mouse

Spaghetti Mouse asserted himself as the top handicap horse in British Columbia with an authoritative win over Lord Avalon in Tuesday's Grade 3, $110,920 Lieutenant Governors.

Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Spaghetti Mouse sat just off Winter Warning, who set modest fractions of 23.15 and 47.45 seconds. Jockey Pedro Alvarado moved Spaghetti Mouse to engage Winter Warning just past the quarter pole and Spaghetti Mouse was never really threatened as he easily held off a late bid by Lord Avalon. Spaghetti Mouse covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.62 and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.

"That was pretty easy," said Alvarado. "He relaxed beautifully for me and I had a lot of horse the whole race. I was just waiting for the right moment to turn him loose, and he really kicked it into gear when I asked him to run."

It was the first graded stakes win for trainer Lenore DaPonte, who took over as Spaghetti Mouse's trainer this year. It was the fourth graded stakes win for Spaghetti Mouse and the third year in a row that he has won the Lieutenant Governors, each time for a different trainer.

Spaghetti Mouse was developed by Gary Demorest. Under Demorest, Spaghetti Mouse also won the Grade 3 B.C. Derby as well as the 2006 Lieutenant Governors. When Demorest died last spring, Ned Sams took over as Spaghetti Mouse's trainer.

"He's just a really nice horse and I'm lucky to be his trainer," DaPonte said. "Right now he's a very happy horse and Pedro couldn't have ridden him any better."

Spaghetti Mouse has become a fan favorite at Hastings and received a rousing ovation when he returned to the winner's circle.

"That was pretty sweet," said DaPonte.

DaPonte said Spaghetti Mouse came out of his race in excellent shape and would be pointed to the $100,000 B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 1. Owned by Nick and Pauline Felicella, Spaghetti Mouse has now won 9 of 28 starts and $745,584.

True Metropolitan may return

Two-time Sovereign Award winner True Metropolitan is another possibility for the B.C. Cup Classic.

True Metropolitan had a brutal trip while finishing second in the $200,000 Dominion Day at Woodbine on Tuesday. His trainer, Terry Jordan, said he was looking for a race for True Metropolitan before he runs in the Longacres Mile on Aug. 17.

"I haven't made up my mind yet," said Jordan. "I might keep him at Woodbine, possibly go to Alberta, or the Classic. But the Mile is certainly on his agenda."

What's next for Lord Avalon?

Trainer Mike Chambers was pleased with Lord Avalon's race in the Lieutenant Governors. Lord Avalon was tackling stakes horses for the first time and making his first start around three turns.

"That was a good race for him," said Chambers. "I haven't really looked too far ahead, but we'll go over him when he gets back to Emerald and if he's okay we'll look around for another race."

Sir Gallovic's next start uncertain

Sir Gallovic, who beat True Metropolitan in the Grade 3 Premiers last year, finished a dull sixth in the Lieutenant Governors as the second choice. His trainer, Troy Taylor, was disappointed in the effort and isn't sure when Sir Gallovic will run next.

Taylor also trains Winter Warning and said that he would probably make his next start in the B.C. Cup Classic.