Running of 66th BC Derby on Sunday, Sept. 11 draws some of racing's biggest names

VANCOUVER, Sept. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - Two of the hottest and most sought-after jockeys in North America will be joined by one of California's elite trainers for the 66th running of the $200,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings Racecourse & Casino on Sunday, Sept. 11.

A full field of 12 three-year-olds will include Del Mar's most successful trainer Mike Mitchell making his Canadian debut.  Mitchell, a six-time winner of the training title at Del Mar with 453 career victories to his credit, claimed Hurricane Lake for Vancouver's Jeff Sengara on August 6.

Aboard Hurricane Lake will be 27-year-old riding sensation Martin (pronounced 'Mar-teen') Garcia, two-time winner of the prestigious Haskell Invitational Handicap and winner of the Preakness Stakes with Lookin at Lucky in 2010.

Garcia scored two major wins for celebrated California trainer Bob Baffert this year:  the Haskell aboard Coil on July 31 and Plum Pretty in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6.

"We're looking forward to our first visit to Canada," Mitchell says. "Hurricane Lake has been working well and we'd love to win the BC Derby in front of Jeff Sengara's home-town crowd."

Garcia will learn soon enough Sunday at Hastings Racecourse just how loyal thoroughbred fans are to home-brews. Renowned jockey  Russell Baze, who holds the record for most race wins in North America, was born in Vancouver and returns to his native land to ride Emerald Derby champion Jebrica for trainer Jim Penney. Baze made a guest appearance at the 2010 BC Derby, finishing third on favourite Cherokee Notion after 40-1 long shot Majesticality won by half a length over Crew Leader.  Baze signed autographs for more than an hour prior to suiting up for the Derby.

With seven of the starting dozen BC Derby contestants arriving from other jurisdictions which include California (Hurricane Lake, Northern Indy and Northern Causeway), Washington (Couldabenthewhisky, Jebrica,  Winter Warlock) and Woodbine (Line Change), there are two intriguing storylines involving local connections.

Highly respected owner Peter Redekop last won a BC Derby with Squire Jones in 1994 and sends top Hastings three-year-old Inhisglory to the post Sunday with defending champion jockey Richard Hamel in the irons under the watchful eye of trainer Craig MacPherson.  Inhisglory has won three major stake races this year:  the River Rock and Chris Loseth at Hastings and the Count Latham at Northlands Park in Edmonton.

"Winning the BC Derby is as difficult as winning the Stanley Cup," says Redekop.  "I've been waiting 17 years for a repeat."

Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella are well on their way this year to winning their fourth consecutive Leading Owners title at Hastings Racecourse.  Todd, the catalyst of the partnership, is a fierce competitor and longs for the day he hits the winner's circle in the BC Derby Day, something that has eluded him during his horse racing career.

Todd and Kinsella purchased Commander from Delaware interests this past June and were encouraged by his first start at Hastings: second to Northern Causeway by a neck in the Richmond Derby Trial on Aug. 14.  Todd's legendary trainer Troy Taylor turns 80 on BC Derby Day.  The birthday gift Todd has in mind is obvious.

Sunday's BC Derby Day card begins at 12:20 p.m. and includes five other major stakes races including the $100,000 BC Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.  Total purse money on the day will surpass $500,000.

SOURCE Hastings Racecourse

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Howard Blank    
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