07/31/2004 12:00AM

Cup Classic boils down to top two

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Although six horses have been entered in the $65,000 British Columbia Cup Classic, the 1 1/8-mile feature race on British Columbia Cup Day at Hastings on Monday, the race really shapes up as a match race between the 2003 local horse of the year, Roscoe Pito, and the older handicap champ for the past three years, Lord Nelson.

The edge has to go to Lord Nelson. After all, they have met three times this year, and in all three races Lord Nelson has finished in front of Roscoe Pito.

At 123 pounds, Lord Nelson will be spotting Roscoe Pito four pounds, but those are the same weights they carried when they met in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lieutenant Governors' July 1, a race Lord Nelson lost by a neck to Royal Place. Roscoe Pito finished 4 1/2 lengths back in third. Roscoe Pito drew the rail Monday, and there is not much doubt he will be in front early. Lord Nelson, however, has just as much speed, and according to his trainer, Dino Condilenios, he will be using it.

"Roscoe's a pretty nice horse, and there's no way we're going to let him get away on his own," said Condilenios. "We'll definitely be sending away from there, and hopefully both riders can take a hold and make a race of it from the three-eighths pole."

As usual, Frank Fuentes will ride Lord Nelson. Roscoe Pito will be ridden by Chad Hoverson.

Although Roscoe Pito didn't win the Lt. Governors', it might have been the best race of his career. Yes, he did rattle off five straight stakes victories last year as a 3-year-old, and included in that streak were the B.C. Derby, Emerald Derby, and B.C. Premiers. But those fields didn't compare with the horses he faced in the Lt. Governors'. It actually looked like was going to win that race at the quarter pole, but according to his trainer, John Snow, an accident in his stall four days before the race might have hindered his chances.

"He banged his head against something, and when we showed up in the morning there was blood all over his stall," he said. "He must have ruptured something in his nose, and luckily it wasn't serious. Our vet said that he would probably be fine to run in the Governors' and he was, but something burst in his nose, and he probably started choking. Chad said he had a lot of horse until then, and it might have cost him. No excuses though - we still have to beat Lord Nelson."