05/05/2004 11:00PM

Filly may challenge boys


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's possible that the filly Dancewithavixen and the gelding Lord Nelson will face each other in the $40,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Sprint on May 23. Both came out of their winning races last weekend in good shape, and Tom Longstaff, who is the owner and trainer of Dancewithavixen, is seriously considering giving Dancewithavixen a chance to beat the boys in her next start.

There are a couple of reasons Longstaff is willing to let her take on colts and geldings - weight and the local stakes schedule. She carried 124 pounds in her win over Victor's Secret in the Sun Handicap and she figures to carry less in the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Also, there isn't a stakes race for fillies and mares at Hastings until June 19.

"I still haven't made up my mind, but I have nominated her to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and it's certainly an option I'm considering," said Longstaff.

Since May 3, 2003, Dancewithavixen has won nine stakes at Hastings, and it looks like the only thing that will stop her is weight. She's proven that she's capable of packing heavy baggage. She carried 126 pounds when she won the Free Vacation Stakes by 7 3/4 lengths last year.

"It's pretty early in the year to be carrying that much weight," said Longstaff. "She should get a break if she runs against males, and she's so sharp right now that it's tough to turn her out."

Lord Nelson left little doubt that he's still the top older horse in the province. A 7-year-old gelding, Lord Nelson has been the leader of the handicap division in British Columbia for the past three years, and he looked as good as ever last Sunday, when he scored a game win over Commodore Craig in the 6 1/2-furlong George Royal Stakes. It was his first win in a sprint since early May of 2002, and he figures to be tough when he stretches out to a middle distance.

His trainer, Dino Condilenios, said Lord Nelson will make his next start in either the Hong Kong Jockey Club or the 1 1/16-mile John Longden before he runs in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lieutenant Governors' on July 1. Lord Nelson won the Lieutenant Governors' last year following a third-place finish in the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

"He came out of his race in great shape, but he's the kind of horse that lays his body on the line every time he runs, so I don't like to run him too often," said Condilenios. "He'll let me know which race to run in."

Regal Red lives up to billing

Trainer Robbie Anderson had a lot of reasons to smile after the dominating performance of Regal Red in the Fair Lady Stakes and the second-place finish of Commodore Craig on the George Royal.

Regal Red proved what everyone thought all along - that she's the best 3-year-old filly sprinter on the grounds. If she can carry her speed over a middle distance, she could have a year similar to the one Dancewithavixen had in 2003.

Regal Red tried stakes horses for the first time Sunday, and she cruised to a five-length win over Crystal Gala. Her final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was a fast 1:17.45, and her rider, Frank Fuentes, really only asked her to run when she opened up a clear lead around the stretch turn.

"That was pretty easy, and I'm pretty sure she'll stretch out," said Fuentes. "When I work her with Commodore Craig I can usually take her back."

Anderson won't have to worry about Regal Red going a distance for a while. He said her next two engagements will be in sprint stakes.

Although Commodore Craig came up a neck short, Anderson was pleased with the way he rated behind front-runners Lord Nelson and Roscoe Pito.

"He's really maturing, and he's finally starting to relax," Anderson said. "We couldn't have taken him back like that when he was younger. Of course, it's not that hard to rate behind a fast pace in a sprint. We'll see if he can relax when they stretch out."

Commodore Craig will likely make his next start in the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Hall of famer Barroby to be honored

Hastings will honor trainer Harold Barroby on Saturday. Barroby, 59, won his 1,500th race last Sunday and is the all-time leading trainer at Hastings in both wins and stakes wins, with 151. Barroby says his best accomplishment as a trainer over the past 40 years is that he's won every derby in Western Canada at least once. He has been the leading trainer at Hastings nine times and was inducted in the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.