07/17/2008 11:00PM

Top owners buy Texas Wildcatter for B.C. Derby


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The first move in the annual game of trying to purchase the winner of the upcoming British Columbia Derby has been made by Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella.

The leading owners at Hastings, they recently purchased Grade 3 Gotham Stakes runner-up Texas Wildcatter. A 3-year-old colt by Monarchos, Texas Wildcatter was part of a three-horse package that also includes Forest Prince, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old by Mineshaft, and Summer Song, a maiden 3-year-old filly that has started just once.

All three of the horses were owned and bred by Stonerside Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher. They have been transferred to Troy Taylor’s barn. Taylor was the leading trainer at Hastings in 2007 and is a lock to win the title again this year.

If the B.C. Derby were held this week, Texas Wildcatter would be an odds-on favorite over the best 3-year-olds running at Hastings. He is coming off of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs won by Pyro, and his average Beyer Speed Figure stands out compared to the numbers posted by the local 3-year-olds.

Krazy Koffee earned a 74 Beyer Figure for his win in the Chris Loseth Handicap. By comparison, Texas Wildcatter earned a 98 for his second-place finish in the Gotham.

Todd and Kinsella bought Sir Gallovic with the same idea in mind last year, and Sir Gallovic might have won the derby with a clean trip. Sir Gallovic won his first two starts at Hastings and went into the derby as the favorite. He got stuck on the rail, however, and he didn’t get a chance to run until it was too late. He returned to defeat two-time Sovereign Award winner True Metropolitan in the $100,000 Premiers.

On paper, Texas Wildcatter is a much better horse than Sir Gallovic was at the same stage in his career. Sir Gallovic had only one victory when he was bought by Todd and Kinsella, and it came in a $60,000 maiden claiming race at Belmont.

Texas Wildcatter won a first-level allowance race at Philadelphia Park by better than 10 lengths, and just missed in the Gotham. He also finished third in the $109,000 Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 2.

“There’s not much question that Texas Wildcatter has done a lot more than Sir Gallovic had when we bought him last year,” said Taylor. “Sir Gallovic turned into a pretty nice horse, though. Hopefully, this one will, too.”

The three horses arrived at Hastings last Sunday, and Taylor is just getting acquainted with them.

“In terms of looks I like Summer Song the best,” said Taylor. “She’s a very good looking horse. Texas Wildcatter is not eye-catching, but obviously he has some talent.”

Taylor wasn’t sure where Texas Wildcatter would make his next start. He is eligible to a second-level allowance race but the odds of one filling soon are pretty slim. The next stakes race for 3-year-olds at Hastings is on Aug. 4, but it is restricted to B.C.-breds.

“We’ll see,” said Taylor. “I am planning on working all three of them on Tuesday morning, and we’ll take it from there.”

Seminole Brave advances

Trainer Mel Snow will get a better idea of just how good Seminole Brave is after he runs in the feature race at Hastings on Sunday. Seminole Brave is stretching out for the first time in the $50,000 optional race, and it should be a good test with such proven stakes horses as Shacane and Ookashada in the field.

Seminole Brave couldn’t have been more impressive when he romped in a first-level allowance sprint in his latest start. Snow thinks that Seminole Brave won’t have any trouble handling the 1 1/16-mile distance of Sunday’s race.

“He has the breeding for it and he certainly trains and works like he’ll be fine going long,” said Snow. “He is facing a good group of horses, and I’ll know more about where I’m headed with him after he runs Sunday.”

A 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Exchange Rate, Seminole Brave debuted in a first-level allowance race on May 8. He broke slowly and was never really involved in the race. He came back with a strong performance to just miss in a similar race in his next start, then he took a big step forward when he won the same type of race on June 8.

Seminole Brave put it all together in his latest start, drawing off to win by over nine lengths over Regal Isolation. He earned a 90 Beyer Figure, and if he can come close to that number going long, he is going to be a major player in the older stakes division at Hastings.

“He wasn’t broke when I bought him last winter as a 3-year-old,” said Snow. “I really liked him last year, but he pulled a muscle behind just before he was ready to run, so I kicked him out for the rest of the year.”

If Seminole Brave runs well on Sunday, Snow said he would probably point him towards the $100,000 B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 4. If he has a hard time handling the extra distance, Seminole Brave would likely make his next start in the $50,000 B.C. Cup Sprint the same day.

Snow, who is the president of the Canadian Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, is in Philadelphia attending an HPBA conference and won’t make it back in time to watch Sunday’s race.