06/18/2009 12:00AM

Woombroom Express sharpened for feature

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A very sharp Woombroom Express looks like the one to beat in the feature race at Hastings. The 6 1/2-furlong second-level allowance race, which carries a $50,000 claiming option, drew five horse and will go as the fourth of nine races scheduled for Saturday.

Woombroom Express, who is trained by Quint McCabe, should be full of confidence following his powerful 5 1/4-length front-running win in a 6 1/2-furlong first-level allowance race for British Columbia-breds on May 24. Ridden by Frank Fuentes, Woombroom Express was in hand the whole way, and it appeared he could have gone quite a bit faster if he had needed to. Woombroom Express will be making his third start at the meet, and if he continues his pattern of improving in each race, he will be tough to handle. According to McCabe, he came up short when he finished third in a $25,000 optional race on April 18. Woombroom Express improved to finish second in an entry-level race on May 9 and then peaked with his impressive performance on May 24. McCabe likes the way he has trained following his facile win.

"He is just full of himself right now," said McCabe. "His works have been super, and he should run another good race. He doesn't need the lead, so I'll just let Frank ride him as he sees fit."

Woombroom Express came back to post identical bullet five-furlong works in 58.80 seconds on June 7 and 14.

Smoke'n Coal appears to be the only horse in the field who can put any pressure on Woombroom Express early. Trained by Dino Condilenios, Smoke'n Coal forced a quick pace and then held on well to finish second behind next-out stakes winner Seminole Brave when he made his first start at Hastings, a $75,000 optional race on April 18. His fourth-place finish in a $50,000 optional race on May 10 was better than it looks on paper. He didn't break all that sharply and then got stuck behind a very slow pace.

Smoke'n Coal used his good speed to win the $74,000 Grand Slam Stakes at Belmont Park in his second start as a 2-year-old in 2007. He drew the rail Saturday and it wouldn't be surprising to see leading rider Fernando Perez try to put him on the lead.