11/23/2006 12:00AM

True Metropolitan in line for a rare feat


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Rarely has a horse based at Hastings won a Sovereign Award. In the past 25 years, there have been only three: Magic Code in 1999, Avant's Gold (1991), and Travelling Victor (1983). Travelling Victor was also the Horse of the Year.

After his impressive win in the Woodbine Slots Cup last weekend, it appears True Metropolitan could join the list.

If True Metropolitan does win the Sovereign for the best older horse in Canada on dirt, he would be a true national champion. Most Sovereign Award winners are understandably based at Woodbine, which has the best racing in Canada. When Magic Code, Avant's Gold, and Travelling Victor won their awards, all of their wins were at Hastings or in Washington, at either Longacres or Emerald Downs.

On the other hand, True Metropolitan, who is trained by Terry Jordan, has won stakes races in three provinces, British Columbia, Alberta and now Ontario.

"I think he deserves a Sovereign," Jordan said from Acapulco, Mexico. "We beat the best horses in just about every province in the country including Ontario, and if he doesn't get the recognition, well, then the west just doesn't count."

With nothing left to prove after his impressive performance in the Woodbine Slots Cup, Jordan was planning on giving True Metropolitan the rest of the year off. But after discovering that he couldn't book a flight back to Vancouver for True Metropolitan until January, he's considering running him in the Valedictory Stakes at 1 3/4 miles, which will be run closing day, Dec. 3.

"He came out of the race in great shape, and since we can't leave for a while we'll keep him in training," said Jordan. "If the track isn't frozen and it's not too cold, we'll run him. He can run all day so the distance should suit him perfectly. I'll leave him with Lorne Richards, and I'll come back from Mexico a few days before we enter to see how everything is going. Lorne certainly did a great job of getting him ready for his last race."

True Metropolitan proved his distance capabilities with an easy win over a very tough Spaghetti Mouse in the 1 3/8-mile Premiers at Hastings. When Jordan shipped him to Woodbine, he actually thought that True Metropolitan looked better in the Valedictory than in the Slots Cup.

Jordan isn't sure what he's going to do with True Metropolitan next year. He could follow the same schedule that saw him win seven stakes races and $356,487 in 2006. With his strong record this year, however, he would obviously have to carry a lot more weight. He might be better suited for a track like Woodbine, where he could run for more purse money. As well, True Metropolitan showed that he could handle Polytrack and has also won on turf, so Jordan has a lot of options.

"He's so good right now that it's almost a shame to quit on him," said Jordan. "Every time he runs he seems to come back better then the race before. At the beginning of the year he was a very nervous horse, but he's really matured and hardly anything bothers him now.

"He's had a long year, though, and he's been very good to us, so he deserves a break. We've been getting some substantial offers for him, so it's also possible we'll sell him. For now, we're just going to enjoy everything and we'll sit down and figure it all out after the Valedictory."

A case could also be made for Jordan as a serious Sovereign Award candidate in the trainer category. He has won 41 races from 121 starts, far short of Reade Baker, who leads the country with 69 wins. But, Jordan has a much better win percentage, and with 15 stakes wins, he's 4 clear of Mark Casse, who is in second place with 11.

Futural retired at age 10

Trainer Dave Milburn reported that Futural has been retired. A 10-year-old gelding, Futural was one of the top handicap horses in the California in 2001. As well as winning the Grade 2 San Bernardino Handicap and the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy, he finished first in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup but had his number taken down in a controversial decision. He was claimed by the late Kim Hart for $80,000 in 2002 and has raced mostly at Hastings since. Along with Don Muldoon, Milburn claimed Futural for $20,000 in 2004.

"He's completely sound, but he's been accepted to a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Kentucky called Old Friends," said Milburn. "He should like it there. He's very personable and they reportedly get between 75 and 100 visitors a day. He'll also be reunited with Kudos, who he ran against in the [2002] Santa Anita Handicap. From the day we claimed him he's been a barn favorite, and it's nice to send him home a winner."

Futural started 70 times, won 12 races, and earned $816,107. He won his last start for Milburn, a $5,000 claiming race on July 28.