08/15/2002 11:00PM

Woodbine's takeover the basis of high hopes for sale rebound

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Catalogs are out for the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society B.C. Division yearling and mixed sale, which is scheduled for Sept. 10 at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, a suburb of Vancouver.

Last year's numbers were down, but Dixie Jacobson, president of the B.C. division of the CTHS, is optimistic about the upcoming sale.

"People are just so enthusiastic about racing in B.C. right now," she said.

Jacobson is hoping that the sale will reflect the enthusiasm in the industry since the takeover of Hastings Park by the Woodbine Entertainment Group from the Pacific Racing Association earlier this year. When it was announced that the Woodbine group was interested in getting involved in racing in Vancouver two years ago, the CTHS had an excellent sale.

Jacobson feels that because the deal still wasn't completed last year, there was a negative feeling about the future of horse racing among prospective buyers and it had a big impact on the sale.

"Right now there's a perception that the future looks bright," she said. "And every time you go out to Hastings Park they've done something new to the place. It looks great out there and B.C. Cup Day was one of the best ones ever."

Jacobson also said the CTHS will pay the nomination fees into the Sales Stakes for 10 of the horses sold.

"We'll hold a raffle to choose the 10 horses," she said. "To be eligible for the draw, the horses also have to take part in the yearling parade on Monday, Sept. 9."

Last year's leading sire in the province, Vying Victor, will be represented in the sale by seven horses, including a full sister to multiple stakes winner Elana D'amour. She figures to be one of the favorites for the $175,000 Breeders' Cup B.C. Oaks Sept. 7, and with Grace for You likely to skip next Saturday's Free Vacation Stakes, Elana D'amour will probably be odds-on in that race.

Lara looking to buy

Owner-trainer Juan Lara figures to be one of the buyers at the sale. He recently moved to Vancouver from Mexico and has been very active at the claiming box lately. He has six horses in training and would like to up that total to around 20.

"I'll claim some more here and buy some at the sale," he said.

One of the reasons he moved to Vancouver is that in his estimation it's a much safer place than Mexico for him and his wife to raise their four children.

"It seems somebody gets kidnapped down there every day," he said. "And Vancouver is such a beautiful city."

The best horse that he has in training is Continentalsuccess. He's coming off a second to Danzilation in a $50,000 optional sprint and is stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in a allowance race in which he will face Work Visa, who won the Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes July 20.

"I think he'll run a good race," said Lara. "He's got brothers and sisters that have won going even further."

Continentalsuccess has become a completely different horse since Lara stopped letting the jockeys who ride him carry a whip. He won a $35,000 optional race before his second to Danzilation last time.

"He was stopping in his races in Mexico and I'm sure it was because he didn't like getting whipped," Lara said. "It really seems to have made a difference."

If Continentalsuccess runs well on Sunday, he could run in stakes races in the future, Lara said.

Lara had a trainer's license in Mexico and was part-owner of a glass-making company. He's a full-time trainer now.

"We sold the glass company a few years ago and now we get to do what we want," he said. "I like doing this."

What next for Raglan Road?

Before the recent barn fire at Woodbine, Kathy Bremner was considering a trip there with Raglan Road, who was an easy winner going 3 1/2 furlongs in his debut race Aug. 3.

"We usually ship our horses into Mac Benson's barn at Woodbine, but he was in the one that burned down," said Bremner. "So we're just keeping our options open for now."

Robert Costigan paid $100,000 at the Ocala Breeders sale in April for Raglan Road, and if Raglan Road's initial race is any indication, it looks like money well spent.

Bremner has nominated Raglan Road to next Saturday's New Westminster Stake at Hastings.