10/15/2009 11:00PM

Trick of the North has tall task in stakes

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trick of the North will be making his 50th start when he runs in the Grade 3, $100,000 Premiers at Hastings on Sunday. With Teide in the field, the 8-year-old gelding will be a longshot in the 1 3/8-mile feature. Nonetheless, Trick of the North has certainly earned his way into the race with five wins this year.

Trick of the North has been paying dividends for his owners, Aurora Stables, ever since they claimed him for $25,000 in 2005. Since then, he has earned more than $300,000, and with only five horses in the Premiers he is going to add to that total Sunday. Mark LeSage, who along with Grant MacDonald and John Edwards make up Aurora Stables, looked back on the fun they've had with Trick of the North.

"It's been a blast," LeSage said. "Everywhere we've run him, he's done well and it seems like he's getting better."

Trick of the North has won 11 races for Aurora Stables and has been stakes placed nine times. The closest he came to winning a stakes race was in the City of Edmonton Championship in 2006 when he was beaten a neck by Quiet Cash. In his next start, he finished second to True Metropolitan, who went on to be named the top older horse on dirt in Canada.

"We can't complain," LeSage said. "He has come close to winning a stakes for us but he just keeps running into a little better horse. Obviously, we have our hands full with Teide in the Premiers."

Trick of the North has done most of his racing on dirt at Hastings and Northlands but he really took to a synthetic track when he ran over Tapeta at Golden Gate. In fact, he set a track record for a mile in 1:35.92 when he won a $50,000 optional race there in January 2008.

"That was really a thrill," LeSage said. "He's also a great horse to be around, and he's become a fan favorite here. He's so kind we nicknamed him grandpa."

When Aurora Stables claimed Trick of the North, their trainer was Ron Jewell who died in 2007. Trick of the North is currently trained by Barbara Heads who took over his conditioning when he went to Golden Gate in December 2007. Under her care, he has won 7 races from 13 starts.

"He's a pretty special horse," Heads said. "They have had a great time with him, and they'll have a hard time replacing him. He gives you a hundred percent every time."

In his last two starts, both wins, Trick of the North found a way to go through holes that didn't appear to exist. Robert Skelly has been aboard for his last four races.

"Every time Robert comes back to the winner's circle, he tells us he was just aboard for the ride," Heads said. "They really get along well together."

Heads knows Trick of the North is in a tough spot Sunday.

"He's running out of places to run this time of year, and you don't get that many opportunities to run in a race like this," she said. "We all know we're probably running for second money, but we're willing to take a run at it. Plus, he is just thriving right now."

Trick of the North will be making his third start in the Premiers. He finished third in 2005 and fifth in 2007.

Otero to return in Fantasy

Otero will try and remain undefeated when she runs in the $100,000 Fantasy for 2-year-old fillies next Sunday. It will be not an easy task. Otero hasn't raced since she won the 6 1/2-furlong Lassie Stakes on Aug. 26 and she will be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time. Otero is a Kentucky-bred and all of the stakes races at Hastings since the Lassie have been restricted races. Trainer Dave Forster was planning to work her this weekend.

"I'm not sure what day I'm going to work her," he said. "It depends on the track condition. It's not the greatest being two months between races and then having to go long. That's not the thing you want to do with a 2-year-old, it never was. She worked a good seven furlongs last weekend and she is certainly doing well enough, so I guess we'll run her."

Otero was purchased by Forster for Tres Hombres Stables for $14,000 out of the Keeneland September sale last year.