07/24/2003 11:00PM

Trainers ponder options for B.C. Day races

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A total of 118 nominations have been received for the eight races that make up the major events for B.C. Cup Day on Aug. 4 at Hastings. Many of the horses are nominated to more than one race, and trainers are still trying to figure out where their horses will run.

Robbie Anderson is uncertain where Commodore Craig fits best. A 4-year-old, Commodore Craig is coming off of a sharp win over Silver Donn in an allowance sprint July 9, and his only previous win in a stakes was also sprinting. But Commodore Craig has never passed a horse in the stretch and it's hard to see him in front with horses such as Celt and Handy N Bold running in the Sprint.

Commodore Craig is also nominated to the 1 1/8-mile Classic. He has never won beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, but was beaten by only a head in the 1 1/16-mile John Longden 6000 and ran a good race go finish third to Lord Nelson in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors' at nine furlongs.

Anderson appears to be leaning toward the Sprint, however.

"I don't think that he absolutely has to be on the lead," said Anderson, as his wife and assistant trainer, Suzanne, rolled her eyes. "Well, maybe he does. It's a hard call. If Salt Grinder and Handy N Bold come up from Emerald it's going to be pretty tough on the front-runners in the Sprint. I'm running a horse down there this weekend so I'll probably make my decision after finding out who's running where."

Jim Morgan, who owns Silver Donn, has a similar problem. Silver Donn has plenty of speed but rates nicely, and the way the Sprint is likely to shape up he would appear to have a big shot there. He has also run very well at 1 1/16 miles, but the extra sixteenth he would have to go in the Classic has presented a problem both times he has gone 1 1/8 miles. Last week, Morgan was fairly certain that Silver Donn would run in the Sprint, but after spending a lot of time analyzing each race, he was still undecided Friday morning.

"Both times he's gone a mile and an eighth he just hasn't kicked in the final part the way he does at a mile and a sixteenth," Morgan said. "But he's only tried it twice and he was chasing a pretty fast pace that Salt Grinder set when he finished third in the B.C. Derby last year."

Trainer Robert VanOverschot has nominated Illusive Force to the colts and geldings division of the Stallion Stakes and Stratoplan to the Classic. Both horses are 3-year-olds but Stratoplan is by Game Plan, who is based in Washington, and that makes Stratoplan ineligible to the Stallion Stakes. Illusive Force lost some of his luster following a disappointing campaign back east, and Stratoplan scratched out of the Jim Coleman Province last weekend. He would have been heavily favored if he had run.

VanOverschot is considering his options with both horses. "Illusive Force just got back from Woodbine and so far he seems fine," he said.

"I haven't done anything with him since he's been back so I'll know more about it in the next few days. If all is well he'll definitely run in the Stallion Stakes.

"Stratoplan just wasn't himself last weekend but he's bounced back and I tested his blood and it seems fine. He should get in pretty light running against older horses but if the weight's not acceptable I might run him at Emerald in the Seattle Slew Breeders' Cup Aug. 10."

VanOverschot has also nominated Dee's Love to the fillies division of the Stallion Stakes. She's likely to be second or third choice behind Dancewithavixen, who recently won the Nanaimo Stakes while carrying a hefty 123 pounds.

* The Vancouver City Council meeting on Thursday that was supposed to address whether slot machines are going to be allowed at Hastings wasn't completed due to time constraints. The meeting will reconvene Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.