There were no surprises in a pair of grade III stakes Oct. 8 at Hastings Racecourse as heavily favored Commander took the B.C. Premier's Handicap (VIDEO) and 3-5 favorite Class Included won the Ballerina Stakes at the Vancouver, Canada track. Each race had a purse of $102,170.
Ridden by Hastings-based Mario Gutierrez, who won this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) with I'll Have Another, Commander took over from pacesetter Northern Causeway approaching the final turn before being tackled by Jebrica. Commander and Jebrica, with Northern California-based Russell Baze aboard, engaged in a stretch duel before Commander emerged a head in front at the wire.
Commander completed the 1 3/8 miles in 2:16.92 while carrying the top weight of 123 pounds, and paid $2.90, $2.10, and $2.10. Jebrica was 13 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Northern Causeway and paid $2.80 and $2.50. Northern Causeway returned $3.60.
Wilo Katfinished fourth, followed by Brass Plate, and Crew Leader. Three Wood broke down at the three-sixteenths pole and was vanned off the track.
The victory was the sixth in a row for Commander, a 4-year-old gelded son of Broken Vow trained by Troy Taylor for North American Thoroughbred Horse Company. Bred in Kentucky by Paragon Farms, Commander improved his record to 8-3-2 in 23 starts and has now earned $328,397. He is a $105,000 graduate of the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.
In the Ballerina (VIDEO), Michael and Amy Feuerborn's Kentucky-bred Class Included rallied three wide on the second turn and wore down leader Evelyn's Dancer to win by 1 1/2 lengths for her fourth consecutive stakes victory.
Longshot P. S. Touch Down jumped out to the early lead and set moderate fractions of :23.04 for the first quarter mile and :46.70 for the half before being collared by Evelyn's Dancer. Ridden patiently by Baze for trainer Jim Penney, Class Included stopped the timer in 1:49.30 over the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Ballerina. The 4-year-old daughter of Include returned $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10. Evelyn's Dancer, ridden by Gutierrez, paid $2.90 and $2.40 while finishing six lengths in front of Orchid's Silver, who was returned $5.60.
Rounding out the field were P. S. Touch Down, Terlani, Queen's Vicar, and Heidi Maria.
Class Included's success avenged a victory in last year's Ballerina by Orchid's Silver as Class Included finished second, a neck back as the 6-5 favorite.
With the victory, Class Included has finished first 10 times and second on six occasions in 16 starts. She has earned $384,526.