10/11/2007 11:00PM

Weight only concern for True Metropolitan

EmailVANCOUVER, British Columbia - True Metropolitan, who will be a strong favorite in the 1 3/8-mile Premiers at Hastings on Sunday, has proven he can handle distance. After all, he is undefeated going 11 furlongs. He won the Premiers last year and has won the 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare two years in a row.

But his trainer, Terry Jordan, is concerned that the 129 pounds True Metropolitan will carry Sunday could prove to be too much for the classy 5-year-old gelding, who has earned $740,708 from his 15 career wins.

"Weight stops them all," Jordan said. "I don't care how good they are, that's a lot of weight for a horse to carry going that far."

The Premiers has been run as a scale-weight race in the past. It's not surprising that Jordan would like to see the Premiers change back to that format.

"They should have a race here where older horses run at equal weights like in the Ballerina," he said. "Did you hear the fans cheering for him when he won the Sir Winston Churchill? They really appreciate a good horse and he's a real fan favorite around here. If they keep piling weight on him, he's going to have to run somewhere else. How much weight will he have to start with next year?"

True Metropolitan is not only a fan favorite, he is also very popular on the Hastings backstretch. He usually takes a circuitous route from Jordan's shed row on his way to the track in the mornings, and it is hard to say how many mints he gets fed on the way. One of his usual stops is at the Troy Taylor barn. Mel Beveridge, Taylor's assistant, started the ritual this spring.

"He's such a neat horse and he loves his candy," Beveridge said. "Sometimes it's hard to get him out of the barn. I just hope we can beat him in the Premiers."

Taylor has entered Sir Gallovic in the Premiers, and he looks like the main threat to True Metropolitan in the eight-horse field. Sir Gallovic is coming off a rough trip in the B.C. Derby, where he finished third. Stuck along the rail most of the way, Sir Gallovic had to check sharply when he tried to get through at the quarter pole. While he was regrouping, Celtic Dreaming was starting to make his winning move. By the time Sir Gallovic got rolling again, the race was over.

"They bounced him off the rail a couple of times and he was cut up pretty good when he came back to the barn," Taylor said. "He seems to be fine now, and he worked okay the other day."

Taylor was referring to Sir Gallovic's five-furlong move in 1:02.80 over a sloppy track Monday.

Desert Alf makes case as top juvenile

Desert Alf went into the Jack Diamond Futurity last Monday as a maiden, but he came out of the race a stakes winner and also a serious contender for local divisional honors. If Desert Alf can beat Star Prospector in the $100,000 Ascot Graduation on Oct. 28, he will probably receive enough votes to be named the top 2-year-old in the province at the annual awards dinner held in the spring. The 1 1/16-mile Ascot is the only middle-distance stakes race for 2-year-olds at Hastings and is usually weighed heavily by the voters.

Trained by Ned Sams, Desert Alf has only started three times, and in his second start he finished second to the more experienced Star Prospector in the CTHS Sales Stakes. A half-brother to B.C. Derby winner Spaghetti Mouse, Desert Alf figures to improve going a distance of ground.

"He's a big, strong horse," Sams said. "He's also very manageable, which should help him in the long run. Spaghetti Mouse can be brilliant at times, but you never really know what he's going to do."

Desert Alf's relaxed demeanor on the track helped him win the futurity. With Frank Fuentes aboard, Desert Alf broke a bit awkwardly but seemed happy to be sitting behind horses early. After saving ground going around the first turn, Fuentes eased him off the rail going down the backstretch and then wheeled him out to go five wide around the stretch turn. Not many horses at Hastings can win from the middle of the track, but Desert Alf never stopped running and got up to win by a length.

"I was a little concerned when he broke the way he did," Sams said. "But he settled in nicely and he got a break when there was a bit of trouble outside of him going into the first turn."

Desert Alf is the third and last foal out of the With Approval mare Desert Mouse. Not long after Desert Alf was born, Desert Mouse died.

"He was raised an orphan," Sams said. "It's really a shame. She produced this guy, Spaghetti Mouse, and her other foal, Aragorn, can run a bit, too."

Aragorn won a maiden special weight race at Hastings this year.

Dancing Allstar targets Fantasy

The Sadie Diamond Futurity winner, Dancing Allstar, also came out of her race in good shape, and Jordan said she will try and carry her speed 1 1/16 miles in the $100,000 Fantasy Stakes on Oct. 27.

Dancing Allstar hasn't been under any pressure in her two sprint stakes wins at Hastings, and regardless of the outcome in the Fantasy, Dancing Allstar is a cinch to be named the top 2-year-old filly in the province. She also won the My Dear Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths at Woodbine in July. She's easily the most impressive 2-year-old filly, or colt for that matter, seen around here in a long time.