05/29/2009 12:00AM

Almost Time gets his prep race


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The connections of Almost Time breathed a collective sigh of relief when an allowance race for 3-year-olds at Hastings lured five horses and filled for Sunday. If the 6 1/2-furlong feature hadn't attracted enough horses to be carded, Almost Time would have had to either wait for the 1 1/16-mile Chris Loseth Stakes on July 1, or ship out of town. Neither option appealed to trainer Dino Condilenios.

The next stakes race at Hastings for 3-year-old colts and geldings is the CTHS Sales Stakes on June 14. Almost Time is a B.C.-bred, but his owners, Swift Thoroughbreds Inc., purchased him privately and he is not eligible for the Sales Stakes.

"I'm not sure what we would have done," said Condilenios. "We really didn't want to ship him out of town, so I probably would have trained him up to the Chris Loseth. This certainly makes it a lot easier to get him ready to stretch out for the first time."

Almost Time figures to be a very short price on Sunday. In his initial start at the meet he came from off the pace to post a convincing two-length win over Tommy Danzigger in the Jim Coleman Province Stakes on May 9. Almost Time closed off his juvenile season with a similar performance in the Jack Diamond Futurity, rallying from sixth to win going away from Gotta Find Bubba.

Frank Fuentes, who was aboard for both of his stakes wins, retains the mount.

To ensure the race filled, Condilenios also entered Slickster. As well as making the race go, Slickster will make sure an honest pace will develop to set up his stablemate.

El Sinaloense is the only other stakes winner in the field, but he is probably going to come up a bit short. Trained by Juan Olmos, El Sinaloense won four straight stakes races at Hastings last year, but he hasn't raced since finishing last in the Ascot Graduation in October.

El Sinaloense looked strong in the latter half of his five-furlong work on May 24, but it was just his third workout this spring and it is hard to see him beating a sharp and racing-fit Almost Time. Pedro Alvarado rides El Sinaloense.

Captain Rouge appears to be overmatched in his first start for his new connections. Captain Rouge looked good winning a $12,500 maiden race on May 9 and he was claimed out of the race by trainer John Snow.

Late Nite Larry rounds out the field.