Updated on 09/16/2011 8:47AM

'Vernon' vulnerable as favorite


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Vernon Invader, winner of the BC Cup Classic, returns to Hastings Park on Sunday after winning two stakes in New Mexico. He should be a solid favorite over eight other older horses in the closing-day feature, the 1 1/8-mile, $28,000 Au Revoir Handicap, which goes as the seventh race.

Vernon Invader, who is owned by Bill Smith and trained by Alex Murray, pulled off a huge upset in his last race here, beating Lord Nelson in the BC Cup Classic on Aug. 5. Smith then shipped him to New Mexico where he won the 1 1/8-mile New Mexico State Fair Handicap at Albuquerque on Sept. 22 and the Bloomfield Handicap at Sun Ray Park on Oct. 20.

Vernon Invader finished fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the San Juan County Commissioner's Handicap at Sun Ray on Nov. 17, and Murray has expressed concern over the condition of Vernon Invader's right front foot.

"He has a club foot and sometimes it develops a bruise, which then becomes an abscess," he said. "Right now, it's slightly bruised, nothing major."

Nicola Wright rides Vernon Invader.

Robert Meeking has been a successful trainer since Mackenzie King was the Prime Minister of Canada in the late 1940's and if he thinks Find Our Star, who has won two $15,000 claiming races in a row, has a chance then it probably makes sense to pay attention. Find Our Star has moved forward in every start since arriving here in late September. He's sharp and there are questions regarding Vernon Invader. How about an upset to close the meet?


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