08/02/2007 11:00PM

Victim of Love seeks return to form


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Last year, the B.C. Cup Sprint turned out to be the most exciting race on B.C. Cup Day. Lord Nelson and Notis Otis hooked up at the top of the stretch and then battled all the way to the wire with Notis Otis hanging on to win by a neck.

On paper at least, the Sprint again shapes up as the best race on B.C. Cup Day this Monday. Lord Nelson is back, but he's probably a step slower as a 10-year-old.

It's a tough call as to which horse will be the favorite.

Victim of Love likely won't be favored off of his latest start, but if he can regain the form he showed in California, he could be tough to beat.

In his last five races at Santa Anita and Golden Gate before coming here, he posted Beyer Speed Figures in the 90s. Lord Nelson is the only other horse in the field that has ever posted a similar figure sprinting.

Owner-trainer Dave Milburn claimed Victim of Love for himself and Donald Muldoon for $25,000 out of a win at Santa Anita on April 19. In his next two starts, with Bob Hess as his trainer, Victim of Love finished second in an entry-level allowance race at Golden Gate on May 26 and he won a $25,000 optional race at Golden Gate on June 9.

In his first start for Milburn at Hastings, Victim of Love was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in a $75,000 optional sprint June 30. After showing good speed for a half-mile, Victim of Love tired to finish fifth. Stole Another who won that race, and Mighty Cahill, who ran second, are both entered in the Sprint.

"He might have had a touch of the virus last time," Milburn said. "He wasn't presenting with a temperature, but he started coughing after the race. We scoped him and he had a lot of mucus."

Milburn likes the way Victim of Love is coming into the race, and he has trained him a little differently from the way he did leading into his first start here. Before his poor showing in June, Milburn gave him a slow half-mile work four days before the race. On Thursday, Victim of Love posted a bullet four-furlong move in 45.60 seconds.

"A good friend told me to train him like he was a stakes horse and not a bottom-level claiming horse," he said. "So I followed his advice and let him roll a bit. Actually, it was a very easy work for him. When I was watching the work, I thought he went in 48 and change."

According to Milburn, the reason he claimed Victim of Love was to have a good horse for the B.C. Cup Sprint. Victim of Love appears to fit the bill.

Sams puts Luhuk's Dancer in Sprint

Trainer Ned Sams has opted to run Luhuk's Dancer in the Sprint instead of the $100,000 B.C. Cup Classic.

It seems like a smart move, especially considering that Sams trains Spaghetti Mouse, who will likely be odds-on to win the Classic for the second straight year.

In his last start, Luhuk's Dancer finished last in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors, won by Spaghetti Mouse.

"It's not so much that we don't want to run against the Mouse," Sams said. "It's just that Luhuk's Dancer can sprint, and although the Sprint is probably the most competitive race of the day, I think he has a good chance of winning it."

Sams didn't feel the race Luhuk's Dancer ran in the Lieutenant Governors is a true indication of what kind of a horse he is.

"He was coming back in two weeks after he just ran one of the best races in his life and it might have been asking just a bit too much of him," he said. "We'll give him another shot at going a mile and an eighth under better circumstances."

Luhuk's Dancer has had plenty of time to recover from his disappointing effort on July 1, and from the looks of his very impressive five-furlong move in 58.80 seconds with Felipe Valdez aboard on July 29, he appears to be coming into the Sprint in excellent shape.

"He galloped out really well, and if Felipe can work out a good trip, he should be right there," Sams said.

Lord Nelson battles quarter crack

Lord Nelson would receive plenty of support in the Sprint if he starts, but he isn't coming into the race as well as trainer Dino Condilenios would like.

"He's training fine, but we're fighting a quarter crack again and I'm just not sure if I'm going to run him or not," he said. "It doesn't seem to be bothering him, but I just don't like the way it looks."

Suva seeks rebound in Dogwood

Another horse coming off of a bad race who could end up favored in the B.C. Cup Dogwood Stakes on Monday is Suva.

Suva, who was the champion 2-year-old filly in the province last year, finished up the track in the $502,000 Woodbine Oaks in her last start June 10.

Trainer Steve Henson blames himself for her poor showing.

"I gave her a bad training job," Henson said. "I tightened the screws a little too tight and she just over-amped on me. If I could go back and do it over again, things would be different."

Henson sent Suva to the farm for a little break when she returned to British Columbia and he's pleased with how she's coming into the Dogwood.

"She's at the top of her game right now," he said.