09/12/2002 11:00PM

Top apprentice to make guest appearance

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Next Saturday's British Columbia Derby shapes up as an exciting race on its own, but in order to spice up the day, Hastings Park management invited North America's leading female rider, Chantal Sutherland, to ride.

Sutherland is currently the second leading rider at Woodbine and is a lock to win the Sovereign Award for the top apprentice rider in Canada. She won the Sovereign Award last year with 44 wins and $1,709,021 in earnings, but that pales in comparison to her record this year. From 570 mounts she has won 105 races and her total earnings are a staggering $4,404,352. With those numbers she certainly has to be given strong consideration for an Eclipse Award. She recently lost her bug but she's still winning races at a high percentage and at age 26 she appears to have a bright future.

It's not easy for a female rider to get started, but it didn't take too long for Sutherland to catch on. "There was the usual stuff from people about not being strong enough and so on," she said, "But after I won a few races trainers seemed to accept me quite readily."

Sutherland's athletic skills have helped her be successful as a jockey. She played field hockey and competed in the Women's Field Hockey Championship for both the under 21 and senior team from Ontario. She was first introduced to horses through jumping and dressage.

She is looking forward to her trip to Hastings but has never ridden on a five-furlong oval before. "I've been watching races on television and it looks like it's tough to ride out there," she said. "It will be interesting, that's for sure, but I think I'll do fine because I've ridden a lot on the seven-furlong turf course at Fort Erie and the turns are pretty tight there as well."

Understandably, one of the riders Sutherland has been watching at Hastings is Nicola Wright, who is the leading apprentice and is in second place in the jockey standings with 62 wins. "It looks like she's doing really well out there and it will be fun to meet and ride with her."

As of now Sutherland doesn't have a mount in the Derby but she's hoping to pick one up. She's planning to fly out after the races at Woodbine on Friday and plans to work a horse for trainer Barb Heads next Saturday morning. "It would be nice to get a feel for the track before I ride in a race."

Six-week vacation revitalized Shacane

Trainer Toni Jacobson Cloutier is very happy with the way Shacane is coming up to the derby. Shacane has won his last four starts and was very gutsy beating Silver Donn by a nose in the Richmond Derby Trial on Sept. 1 after being off for almost six weeks.

"He came out of that race bouncing," said Cloutier. "He couldn't run in the Stallion Stakes because he's by a Washington sire but that was probably a blessing in disguise. He was very tired after his win in the Jim Coleman Province and the time between races did him a world of good."

Shacane will be the third derby horse associated with Cloutier. She worked as an assistant for Terry Jordan when he won the 1996 B.C. Derby with Newdigs and she trained Jam Feu, who finished fifth in the 2000 Derby. "Newdigs was special because my mom and dad owned and bred him, and Jam Feu ran a good race but had a little trouble. We sold him after his 3-year-old year and I just heard that he was named claimer of the meet at Ellis Park."

Shacane is owned and bred by Paul and Maryl Shatzko who race as Bellevue Oaks.

Tails of the Crypt arrives safely

Tails of the Crypt arrived in good shape after his flight from Ontario on Thursday evening and looked comfortable nestled down in Terry Jordan's shed row Friday morning. He was accompanied by his groom and exercise rider, David Ward. "The flight didn't bother him at all and he's settled in nicely," said Ward. "I'll gallop him a mile and a half [Saturday]."

Fonz's status remains uncertain

Trainer David La Croix is still on the fence about shipping Fonz's from Southern California.

"It's pretty expensive to fly one-way so I'm not sure if we're coming or not," he said. "Going back home is reasonable because we can van to Seattle and fly out of there but I don't want to do that leading into the race."

Fonz's would be a solid favorite if he runs. He has earned $349,645 and his third to Came Home in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes looks pretty good matched up against the rest of the field.