06/28/2014 11:58AM

Title Contender looks to continue run as top older horse in Lieutenant Governors' Handicap

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Title Contender has been one the top older horse at Hastings in 2014.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Title Contender figures to cement his status as the top older horse at Hastings when he runs Tuesday in the $50,000 Lieutenant Governors’ Handicap at Hastings. The 1 1/16-mile fixture for 3-year-olds and up that attracted seven horses headlines an eight-race card that includes three other stakes.

Trained by Anita Bolton, Title Contender is coming off a sharp win over Modern in the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill in which he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 90. He came back to work five furlongs in an easy 1:00 with exercise rider Drew Levere aboard June 22. According to Bolton, he got into more trouble during the work than during his races.

“Horses were everywhere,” she said. “One was coming out of the gate, then another broke off right in front of him at the half-mile pole. It was just a mess. Drew did the right thing when he took a nice hold of him. It gave us a few scary moments, but he still worked in a minute, and he got a lot out of it. He’s ready to go.”

[Canada Day: Get PPs, watch Tuesday's card live]

Title Contender hasn’t finished worse than second in five starts at Hastings. He won the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby in his first start in Vancouver last Sept. 8. In his final start in 2013, he came back to give Commander all he could handle going 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 3 Premiers when he tried older horses for the first time. In his only loss this year, he was done in when he chased an extremely fast pace in the John Longden.

Rico Walcott retains the mount.

Mr. Bowling will make his first start at Hastings for trainer Troy Taylor and will be ridden by Vancouver’s favorite adopted son, Mario Gutierrez.

Mr. Bowling won the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old in 2012 and appears to be coming up to a big performance following a second-place finish June 15 in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap at Emerald Downs.

Mr. Bowling, who owns the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure, 91, arrived Thursday morning at Hastings. According to Taylor, he seems comfortable in his new surroundings.

Modern will be the one they will have to catch, and Wilo Kat figures to be running late.

Miss Derek primed for repeat

Trainer Craig MacPherson is hoping Miss Derek can come back with another strong performance in the $50,000 Monashee Handicap for fillies and mares.

She had a perfect trip with Richard Hamel aboard when she won the $50,000 Vancouver Sun by 5 1/2 lengths June 8. She looked very comfortable dogging Lady Henrietta through moderate fractions before taking complete control of the race on the stretch turn. The shape of the 1 1/16-mile Monashee figures to be different with the speedy I Think So in the field.

“The key thing with Miss Derek is getting her to settle at the right time during a race,” said MacPherson. “She was perfect last time, and since then, I think she’s been training better than she ever has.”

Madeira Park, trained by Dave Forster, was sent off as a slight favorite over Miss Derek in the Vancouver Sun, but she got stuck behind the slow pace and finished a non-threatening fourth. She is reunited with Rico Walcott, who was aboard for her wins in the Grade 3 Ballerina and Delta Colleen last year.

“Rico seems to get the most out of her,” said Teri Forster, who has been overseeing the barn while her husband has been recovering from a heart attack he suffered after the races June 21.

Dave Forster seemed none the worse for wear and was back at the track Saturday morning.

Taylor, who trains I Think So, isn’t sure she can carry her speed around three turns. In her last start, I Think So set a slow pace while winning the 6 1/2-furlong Strawberry Morn.

Overvalued is versatile and either will force the issue early or try to rally as she did while finishing second in the Strawberry Morn and Vancouver Sun.

A fast pace would benefit Wando Woman.

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