07/07/2009 11:00PM

Hard-to-pronounce Huitzilopochtli best of Olmos bunch


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Owner-trainer Juan Olmos will be well-represented in the two stakes races for 2-year-olds at Hastings this weekend. On Saturday, Olmos will enter Escuinapa and La Noria in the $50,000 Boulevard Casino for 2-year-old fillies. Sunday, Olmos has three horses for the $50,000 River Rock Resort for colts and geldings.

Both stakes are named after casinos owned by Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the parent company of Hastings.

Both of Olmos's fillies are maidens and all three colts and geldings are winners. The most impressive of the three males is Huitzilopochtli, who came from just off the pace to win a 3 1/2-furlong maiden race on Juneo7. Pronounced Wee-tsee-loh-POCH-lee, Huitzilopochtli is named after the Aztec god of sun and war. He has the breeding to be a decent horse. He is out of Always a Star, who has produced Grade 3 stakes winner Grace for You and multiple sprint stakes winner Ronaldino.

Olmos, who trains El Sinaloense, the local 2-year-old champ last year, said he thinks Huitzilopochtli is cut out to be a nice horse.

"He's the best one, I think," said Olmos. "He worked beautifully the other day and he is coming into the race perfectly."

Olmos was referring to Huitzilopochtli's five-furlong work in 1:00 last Sunday with Fernando Perez aboard.

Olmos has nine babies in his barn, and getting five to the races is a pretty good record. Three wins is exceptional.

"This is the second year that I chose them myself," said Olmos. "I am pretty happy with how it has turned out."

Olmos is originally from Mexico and came to Hastings in 2002 after selling his share of a glass factory he owned. At the time he said he "had enough money to do what I want, and racing horses is what I want to do." Since then, he has started 446 horses and compiled a decent record of 71-50-53. Easily the best horse he has had since he began training here has been El Sinaloense, a four-time stakes winner as a 2-year-old last year.

"I would be very lucky if any of them turn out to be that good," said Olmos. "They have a lot of potential and we'll see how they run on the weekend."

All of the horses he names are associated with Mexico. Macondo is a fictional town from the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude," written by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. La Noria is a town in Mexico.

The filly La Noria broke poorly when she debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight race on June 28.

"She also was getting out a bit," said Olmos. "I put the blinkers on, changed the bit, and she went a lot better when she worked out of the gate last weekend.

"Escuinapa is a pretty nice filly too, and she is also coming up to the race in good shape. I wouldn't count her out."

Olmos is hoping they all run well, but he knows that with 2-year-olds anything can happen.

"Everything looks good, but we'll see how it all works out," he said. "I am just looking forward to having a fun and busy weekend."

Stakes filly Ookster euthanized

The virus that caused Hastings to cancel last Friday's card seems to be subsiding. According to local veterinarian Ed Wiebe, the worst is over.

"Some horses still have it, but it is starting to look a lot better," said Wiebe. "Horses that had it a couple of weeks ago are now back galloping, and we are having a lot less activity in the coughs and cold department."

One barn hit particularly hard was the Toni Cloutier stable. According to Cloutier's husband and assistant trainer, Mark Cloutier, roughly three-quarters of the barn's horses got the virus, and the star of the stable, Ookster, had to be euthanized due to complications that arose from getting the virus.

A 3-year-old filly, Ookster had never finished worse than third in her career, and in her last start she ran a game race to lose by a nose in the CTHS Sales Stakes. She was going to be the first or second choice in the Supernaturel Stakes on July 1, but was a late scratch when she got hit by the virus.

"We sent her to a clinic, and she overcame the virus but then foundered," said Cloutier. "She was really suffering and it wouldn't have been humane to keep her alive. It's basically the same kind of thing that happened to Barbaro."

Cloutier added that most of the horses in the barn are on the road to recovery but said it would take at least a couple more weeks before they were ready to run.

"Most are back galloping and hopefully we'll be able to breeze them on the weekend," he said. "Really, we are going to miss about a month with most of them, but there isn't much we can do about it. At least it looks like the worst is over and we'll move forward from here."