07/20/2005 11:00PM

Celt will be challenged on front end


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The eighth race at Hastings, a $35,000 optional claimer, is easily the most intriguing race on the 10-race card. The 6 1/2-furlong race drew six horses, and there is an abundance of speed.

Celt, who is trained by Dino Condilenios, is the quickest of them all, though. He has held the lead at the first and second call in 20 straight sprints, and if anyone tries to keep up with the speedy 6-year-old gelding early, they're likely going to pay the price late.

Celt hasn't raced since finishing a distant second to Quiet Cash in a $50,000 optional sprint May 29. Celt will be ridden by Frank Fuentes.

Columbia Moon is the big question mark in the race. A 4-year-old son of Orchid's Devil, Columbia Moon showed great promise as a 3-year-old, winning both of his races impressively. He showed tremendous speed in his second start, setting blazing fractions in his win over Louis Downtown in a $50,000 optional race.

The problem is, that was his last race and it was over a year ago. Columbia Moon was entered in an allowance race won by Quiet Cash last Sunday, but was scratched by his trainer, Peter Stephen. Prior to Sunday's race Stephen said that he was reluctant to run Columbia Moon in such a tough spot. But, according to the stewards at Hastings, Columbia Moon was a vet scratch and now he shows up for a tag for the first time. Adding to the dilemma, Pedro Alvarado takes off of a very live Favor for Joey to ride Columbia Moon.