06/27/2003 12:00AM

Bar shoes off Lord Nelson for $100,000 race

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - When Lord Nelson steps out into one of the biggest dances of the Hastings Park meet, the Grade 3, $100,000 Lieutenant Governors' Handicap on Tuesday, he will be wearing new shoes. Lord Nelson has had chronic problems with his feet, quarter-cracks, and in his two starts this year, he wore bar shoes to try and protect his fragile feet.

"The bar shoes really work well in keeping his feet together," trainer Dino Condilenios said. "But he had a hard time handling the track in both of his starts this year, especially his last race. Right now his feet are fine, and for $100,000 I don't want to see him struggling over the surface. So he'll run in standard shoes."

Lord Nelson was the top older horse in the province in 2001 and 2002, and the way the division is shaping up this year, it looks like he will be tough to dethrone. Although he hasn't won in two starts at the current meet, a second by a nose to Diglett in the George Royal and third to Bold 'n Keen in the Hong Kong Jockey Club, both of those races were sprints. He moves up considerably when he stretches out. If you eliminate his race in the 2000 B.C. Derby, when he was making only his fourth career start, he has won four times and never been worse than second in seven starts at the nine-furlong distance of the Lieutenant Governors'.

Last year, Lord Nelson won this race off of only one sprint prep, and if his five-furlong work in 59.80 seconds Tuesday is any indication of his fitness, he will be tough to beat on Sunday. The final time doesn't tell the whole story. He reeled off 12-second fractions for every eighth of a mile, except the one down the backstretch, where he ran an 11.80-second split. He galloped out six-furlongs in 1:13 flat and was well in hand.

"That was just what I wanted," Condilenios said. "He did it well within himself, and I was very happy with the way he galloped out. He should be ready."

Futural makes his return to Hastings in the Governors', and he certainly has the credentials to defeat Lord Nelson. He is a Grade 2 winner in Southern California and finished first in the 2001 Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, but subsequently was disqualified from first place. He came close to beating Lord Nelson when they squared off in the Sir Winston Churchill last September, and followed up that good second-place finish with another place finish in the $100,000 Premiers. He was very dull when racing in Southern California this winter, but appears to be doing well since arriving in trainer Steve Bryant's barn.

"He was a bit body-sore when he arrived, but we've done a lot of work with him and he's responded well," Bryant said.

Speaking of body-sore, Bryant has been at home nursing a broken leg that he suffered when Futural kicked him in his stall a couple of weeks ago.

"He was just showing me how good he felt," Bryant said. "The doctors want me to stay on crutches for at least another week, but I should be back to the track soon."

Ten-pound apprentice Emma Jane Abbott will try to follow in Nicky Wright's footsteps as she makes her first appearance as a rider at Hastings this weekend.

Abbott, like Wright, began riding in England and came across the pond with another apprentice, Mark Lawson this winter. She has had some experience in B.C., winning with four of 10 mounts in the B.C. interior this spring. Also like Wright, she can tack light.

"She won't be overweight this weekend, and she's in with 98 pounds on at least one horse," according to her agent Gordon Rumble.

Another new face at Hastings is journeyman rider Vincent S K Sit, who is visiting from Hong Kong, where he usually rides. He is here for about three weeks, treating his visit as a working vacation.

"I've ridden all over the world and just wanted to add to my learning experience as a rider," he said. "I've never ridden in Canada, and I'm looking forward to being here."

He has connections with members of the Diglett Stable and will ride most of their horses while here.