06/23/2009 11:00PM

Distance the major hurdle for Almost Time


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Dino Condilenios should have a few important questions answered when he runs a couple of his top horses in two of the four stakes races scheduled for Wednesday, July 1. Almost Time will be one of the favorites in the Chris Loseth Stakes for 3-year-olds. Teide will be trying for his first stakes win when he tackles a tough field of older horses in the $100,000 Lieutenant Governors.

First and foremost is the question of Almost Time's ability to get a middle distance. The 1 1/16-mile Chris Loseth will be the first time Almost Time has tried to go farther than 6 1/2 furlongs. If he is successful, he will be the first foal out of his dam to win a race other than a sprint.

Almost Time is by Finality out of Vainglorious. Almost Time's connections hope he takes after his sire, who won the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap over the inner turf course at Belmont. Finality lost by a nose going 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 3 Lexington.

His dam is another story, however. Vainglorious won six sprints in her career and finished second in four sprint stakes. She never won a race that was longer than 6 1/2 furlongs, and in six starts at a middle distance, she finished third once. None of her four previous foals was successful going long although Kings Fjord did place going 1 3/8 miles. The bad news is that it was in a bottom-level maiden race.

On paper, it looks like Almost Time settles early and then makes a strong late run. Actually, he usually breaks poorly and then runs off with his rider, Frank Fuentes. Despite his poor habits, he has managed to win four straight races, including two stakes races. He goes into the Chris Loseth as the most accomplished sophomore at Hastings.

"I don't know if he'll stretch out or not," Condilenios said. "He will need to settle more than he has in his sprints, but he does relax in the mornings, so I'm hopeful he'll be able to when he runs. He couldn't be coming up to the race any better, so he won't have any excuses."

Fuentes wasn't sure how Almost Time will handle his first race going around three turns.

"He's a big strong horse and he has a neck that feels like iron," Fuentes said. "I hope he can relax because I don't know if I'll be able to hold him if he doesn't."

Condilenios can't contain his excitement when he talks about Teide, who still has to prove he can compete at the top level at Hastings.

In his first start here, Teide broke a couple of steps slow and then rallied to finish fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong George Royal Stakes. He made no mistakes when he came back to easily win a $50,000 optional claiming race on May 30 and he has impressed the Hastings clockers in his two works leading up to the Lieutenant Governors.

A 5-year-old horse by Mt. Livermore, Teide should appreciate stretching out to 1 1/8 miles. He started his career in New York and won a mile and 70-yard maiden special weight race at Aqueduct in 2007 in his third start. He won a one-mile first-level allowance race at Gulfstream in 2008. He has placed going 1 1/8 miles on turf, and prior to coming to Hastings he finished a close fourth in a nine-furlong second-level allowance race at Keeneland.

"He seems like the real thing," Condilenios said. "I think he can run with the stakes horses here, and I am looking forward to seeing how he runs on Wednesday. He has certainly earned a shot at it."

Chad Hoverson, who was aboard for both of Teide's races at Hastings, is impressed with the horse. Hoverson was very aggressive when he rode Teide in his second start.

"I wanted to see how much horse he was in his second race," Hoverson said, "and he proved to me he can run with the best horses here."

Spaghetti Mouse targeting four in a row

The star of the four stakes races that will be run Wednesday is Spaghetti Mouse, who will join Teide in the Lieutenant Governors. The all-time leading money-winning B.C.-bred, with $868,911, Spaghetti Mouse has won the last three Lieutenant Governors.

Trainer Lenore Daponte is happy with the way he is coming up to the race. She was especially pleased with Spaghetti Mouse's five-furlong work in 59.60 seconds on June 21. Regular rider Pedro Alvarado was aboard for the move.

"He seems to be right on top of his game," Daponte said. "Pedro just breezed him, and he couldn't have done it any easier."

Spaghetti Mouse is coming off of a neck loss to Bank Emblem in the $51,000 John Longden on June 6. It was a big improvement over his initial start, where he set the pace before tiring to finish seventh in the George Royal Stakes.

"He really got a lot out of the Longden and he seems to have improved since then," Daponte said.

Spaghetti Mouse won four stakes races in 2008. In his loss to Bank Emblem, he earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, which was his best figure since he finished second in the Grade 3 Premiers in 2006. It appears that Spaghetti Mouse, who turned 7 this year, hasn't lost a step and will once again be the horse to beat in the Lieutenant Governors.