06/26/2009 12:00AM

Forster not worried about distance for 'Rojo'

Four-Footed Fotos
Almost Time is expected to be the favorite in Wednesday's Chris Loseth.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Dave Forster is optimistic that Senor Rojo will be able to handle a middle distance when he stretches out in the 1 1/16-mile Chris Loseth Stakes on Wednesday. The Chris Loseth is one of four stakes races that will be run at Hastings on a holiday card.

Senor Rojo hasn't run a bad race this year, and he appears to be peaking as he heads toward his first try at a middle distance since he finished fourth in the $107,000 Ascot Graduation last October.

Senor Rojo finished behind the highly regarded Pop Artist in his first two races this year. In his initial start, he finished third. The horse that finished second, Gotta Find Bubba, won the $55,000 Sales Stakes on May 17. Senor Rojo progressed to second in a $50,000 optional claimer on May 17 and he posted his career-best Beyer Speed Figure, an 82. With Pop Artist running out his conditions and out of the way, Senor Rojo scored an easy 3 1/2-length win in an entry-level allowance race in his last start June 7.

"I'm not worried about him getting the distance," Forster said. "He had been off for over two months when he ran in the Ascot. He is coming into the race in good shape. Is he good enough? We'll find out Sunday."

Forster went to $32,000 when he bought Senor Rojo as a yearling for the Tres Hombres stable at the Keeneland September sale in 2007.

"That's a lot for me," Forster said. "But he was a good-looking horse and he's by Out of Place, who sired Brother Bobby."

Brother Bobby was a horse Forster bought as a yearling for $37,000 out of the 2004 September yearling sale. Brother Bobby ended up earning $298,213 for his owners, James Barnes and Jim Batcheller. He was trained by Forster's son, Grant.

"He was a real nice horse," said Forster, referring to Brother Bobby. "He finished second to Lawyer Ron in the Oaklawn Handicap and he ran a good race to finish fifth to Curlin in the Jockey Gold Cup."

Senor Rojo's dam won just one race, a one-mile maiden special weight race at Sportsman's Park. She is a half-sister to Discover, who was a multiple Grade 3 stakes winner.

"He has the pedigree and he has some talent," Forster said. "I don't know how good the horses he'll be facing are, but he should make them run."

Pop Artist ships out for stakes

Trainer Dino Condilenios is sending Pop Artist to Northlands Park to run in the $50,000 Western Canada Stakes on Wednesday. Pop Artist has been impressive in his two winning races at Hastings and could be tough to beat in the 6 1/2-furlong feature at Northlands.

Pop Artist began his career at Belmont Park, where he won a $100,000 maiden claiming race by six lengths in his debut last October. Prior to coming to Hastings, he finished fourth in a minor stakes race at Aqueduct. He has never gone farther than 6 1/2 furlongs in his five race career. Condilenios had nominated him to the Chris Loseth but will ship him to Northlands for the shorter race.

"We have Almost Time for the Chris Loseth, so it made sense to keep them apart," Condilenios said. "There will be plenty of opportunities to stretch him out. For now, we'll keep him sprinting."

Almost Time and Pop Artist are owned by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. Almost Time will likely be the favorite in the Chris Loseth.

Virus affecting Concert Music

Trainer John Snow is worried that a virus that has hit the Hastings backstretch could keep Concert Music out of the Supernaturel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Friday's card was hit pretty hard, with 12 scratches attributed to the virus.

"I'm not sure if she'll be able to run or not," Snow said. "She didn't gallop out that well when she worked the other day, and her temperature spiked a couple of days after she worked. She's fine now, but we're certainly monitoring the situation."

Concert Music has been very impressive in both of her starts. A Florida-bred filly by Concerto, Concert Music cruised to an 8 3/4-length win when she debuted in a $15,000 maiden race May 2. Snow moved her up to run in a first-level allowance race with a $50,000 claiming option, and she didn't have any trouble handling the substantial jump in class as she drew off to win by six lengths.

Both races were at 6 1/2 furlongs, and she'll be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles if she runs in the Supernaturel.

w Jockey Stephanie Fedora will undergo surgery to repair a shoulder ligaments and will miss the remainder of the meet. Fedora was the leading apprentice at Hastings last year.

"I tried to hold it together, but it seems like surgery is the only way to repair the damage," she said. "I'll be back next year."