06/16/2009 11:00PM

Two beaten favorites had their problems

Four-Footed Fotos
Notis Her (2) gets past Ookster to win the CTHS Sales Stakes for fillies.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - In both stakes races contested at Hastings last weekend, the best horse - and they were both favored - didn't win. A poor start and a wide trip cost Tommy Danzigger the colts and geldings division of the $55,434 CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-olds on Sunday.

Ookster should have won the fillies division on Saturday, and she gained a lot of respect for her very game second-place finish.

Take nothing away from the winners, Gotta Find Bubba and Notis Her. Gotta Find Bubba also broke a step slowly, but he saved ground around the first two turns and also in the run down the backstretch. Tommy Danzigger was hung out at least four wide every step of the way.

Inexplicably, Ookster, who was ridden by leading rider Fernando Perez, got hooked up in a speed duel with the longest-priced horse in the field, B.C. Cat. After battling through sprint-like fractions of 23.18 and 46.55 seconds, she showed tremendous courage by fighting back after getting passed by Notis Her at the top of the stretch. She also had to steady a couple of times during the heated duel with Notis Her the whole length of the stretch. After a lengthy stewards' inquiry, the result was left to stand. The stewards ruled that both horses contributed to the incidents. Richard Hamel was aboard for the win.

Frank Fuentes picked up the mount on Gotta Find Bubba from Chad Hoverson, who came off Orchid's Silver when she clipped heels and stumbled in the fourth race. Hoverson came back to ride Brother Jake to a second-place finish in the sixth race, but he decided to give up the mount on Gotta Find Bubba.

"I knew he had a good shot to win the race," said Hoverson. "But he's not an easy horse to ride and I didn't think it was fair for me to ride him. I knew that it would take a strong ride, and I was hurting in places where I wouldn't have been able to ride him properly."

Wednesday morning, Hoverson was feeling a lot better, and he said he would be riding this weekend.

Steve Henson, who trains Gotta Find Bubba, had a lot of praise for both Fuentes and Hoverson.

"Frank gave the horse a great ride, and that was pretty classy of Chad to give up the mount," said Henson.

According to Henson's assistant Larry Grieve, Gotta Find Bubba came out of the race in good shape and will be pointed to the Chris Loseth Stakes on July 1.

Gilker was also looking at the Chris Loseth for Tommy Danzigger but wasn't totally committed.

"The Chris Loseth comes up pretty quickly, and he's also eligible for a nonwinners-of-two," said Gilker. "We'll play it by ear."

According to trainer Toni Cloutier, Ookster came out of her race in good shape and will make her next start in the Supernaturel Stakes, also on July 1. The Supernaturel is named after a mare who raced for Cloutier's mother, Dixie Jacobson.

"Mom is already excited about the race," said Cloutier. "It would be pretty special to win it for her."

Trainer Barb Heads also indicated that Notis Her would also start in the Supernaturel.

Gregory brings in new blood

Trainer Pete Gregory is optimistic about the future of racing in British Columbia. Because of his optimism, he has imported a couple of stallions who could have a big impact on the local breeding industry.

Gregory is involved in a stud farm called Pacific Stud, which is located in Aldergrove, a suburb of Vancouver. The two stallions standing at the farm are Skimming and Joey Franco. Joey Franco is represented by a horse Gregory trains running in the fourth race on Friday, Tom Quinn. A California-bred 3-year-old, Tom Quinn figures to be a short-priced favorite in the maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds and up. He is a perfect example of the kind of horses Gregory wants to breed in the province

"It seems most of the stallions brought into the province are horses that went longer distances," said Gregory. "We all know how important speed is on a bullring. Joey Franco had plenty of speed and he won a grade 1 at a speed distance. Tom Quinn is exactly the kind of horse we are looking for. We want horses that are fast enough to dictate the pace of the race."

Joey Franco had excellent speed, and used it to win the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Triple Bend at Hollywood Park. He also won the one-mile, Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup.

Skimming has even better credentials, and he has already sired a grade 1 winner, Johnny Eyes.

Skimming won the grade 1 Pacific Classic two years in a row and earned $2.2 million in his career.

"We wanted to get stallions that didn't have excuses," said Gregory. "Both Joey Franco and Skimming are proven racehorses. Skimming won the Pacific Classic going a mile and a quarter on the head end both times. That's a good horse. The reason we got the horses is that we feel a lot more positive about the future here than a lot of people. Compared to the tracks up and down the West Coast, particularly the Pacific Northwest, we're in pretty good shape. We did get the casino, although the timing wasn't great, with the economy going in the tank. Our purses are holding up, and hopefully they will get better in the future."