04/15/2012 9:16PM

Hastings: Almost Time pulls surprise in George Royal


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Almost Time came from just off the pace to upset the $50,000 George Royal at Hastings on Sunday.

With Frank Fuentes aboard, Almost Time broke sharply in the six-furlong race, raced three-wide while stalking favored Winning Machine and Don’twaitforme, who battled through early fractions of 23.49 and 45.80 seconds.  Almost Time took the lead in midstretch and never looked threatened by Jump Up and Kissme, who made a late move to get up for second. Heavenly Chorus rallied to finish third over longshot Heavenly Chorus.  After disposing of Don’twaitforme and taking the lead into the stretch, Winning Machine tired late to finished fourth. The $2 trifecta paid $7,406.80.

Almost Time ($20.20), who ran the distance in 1:10.72,  usually comes from farther back and Fuentes was a bit surprised to see him that close to the pace.

“He really broke clean so I had to go,” said Fuentes. “I think 6 1/2 furlongs are his best distances. I believe in Almost Time all the time.”

Trained by Dino Condilenios, Almost Time was the B.C.-bred horse of the year in British Columbia in 2011. His most important win came in the 1 1/8-mile  B.C. Cup Classic.

Building on a strong finish to the 2011 meet, the total live handle for the opening weekend was up by 29 percent compared with last year.

“Obviously we are very pleased with the great start to the 2012 season,” said Hastings general manager Raj Mutti.