Title Contender Shows His Punch in B.C. Derby
Title Contender, rebounding from a dismal effort in the Canadian Derby (Can-III), snatched the lead from pacesetter Modern and romped to victory in the $144,045 British Columbia Derby (Can-III) (VIDEO) Sept. 8 at Hastings Racecourse.
Racing over the 5 1/2-furlong course in Vancouver, Title Contender was timed in 1:48.24 on a fast track to win by 4 3/4 lengths as a 10-1 outsider for jockey Rico W. Walcott. Hopeseeker was second, with the the Craig MacPherson-trained stablemates Reporting Star and Bluegrass Pride finishing third and fourth, respectively. Reporting Star was the 9-10 favorite in the field of 10 sophomores.
Title Contender had shown some ability with a one-length win in the Ohio Derby (gr. III) at Thistledown July 27 as the favorite. Owned at the time by Gary and Mary West and trained by Wayne Catalano, the son of Pulpit was privately sold to Vancouver businessman Peter Redekop and turned over to trainer Anita Bolton for the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby Aug. 17 at Northlands Park.
The result was disappointing as Title Contender stalked the pace while wide for six furlongs on a sloppy track before dropping back quickly and finished 11th, beaten by nearly 38 lengths.
Redekop made it back-to-back British Columbia Derby wins after taking last year's renewal with Second City, trained by MacPherson.
Bred in Kentucky by Town & Country Farm out of the Roy mare Winter Garden, Title Contender ran in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last November at Santa Anita Park, finishing eighth of nine. He tried the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) after that but was last of 11.
This season, the dark bay gelding was unplaced in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in March and later ran third in an allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs prior to the Ohio Derby.
Title Contender paid $22, $12.10, and $5.90 for his latest win while keying a $399.20 exacta with 30-1 Hopeseeker, who returned $30.80 and $11.20. Reporting Star, favored off his runner-up effort in the Canadian Derby, paid $2.60 to show.
Title Contender raced comfortably in sixth early, saving ground through the first two turns. Modern popped the gate in front and established a quick tempo while leading Hopeseeker and Go for Guinness. Fractions through the opening six furlongs were :22.97, :47.24, and 1:11.45.
Advancing into second on the backstretch, Title Contender put the pressure on Modern and assumed command as the leader gave way readily heading into the final turn. With Hopeseeker attempting to keep up, Title Contender rounded the final turn in control and reached the eighth pole three lengths in front while timed in 1:35.54. He finished up under steady handling by Walcott while widening his advantage.
Hopeseeker, ridden by Antonio Reyes, held gamely for second with the late-arriving Reporting Star and Enrique Gonzalez a neck behind in third. Bluegrass Pride was followed by Shooting Jacket, Modern, Tracker, Success Rate, Go for Guinness, and Leo's in the House.
Title Contender collected his third win from 11 starts while increasing his earnings to $201,385.
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