05/06/2011 12:31PM

Hastings: Condilenios has new star in the making

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There could be a changing of the guard when it comes to stakes horses in trainer Dino Condilenios’s barn. Crew Leader, who is entered in the seventh race at Hastings on Sunday, scored an impressive win in his first start of the year, and it is possible he could supplant Teide as the big gun in the barn.

Teide was the horse of the year at Hastings in 2009, and one could argue, which Condilenios does, that he was the best older horse at Hastings last year.

Senor Rojo, trained by Dave Forster, got the votes and was named best handicap horse and local horse of the year. Teide, however, would have been favored if they had met mid-summer. Teide’s season was cut short after he was injured following his seventh-place finish in the Longacres Mile. Senor Rojo, 10th in the Longacres Mile, came back to win the Sir Winston Churchill and Grade 3 Premiers.

Condilenios thinks Crew Leader could be a good one. Both of Crew Leader’s wins have been sprinting, but Condilenios thinks he is going to be a much better horse going long. In three routes last year, Crew Leader’s best finish was a second in the B.C. Derby.

“He’s not really a sprinter, so I was really impressed with his last race,” said Condilenios. “Is he good enough to take over the top spot in the barn and run with the best horses on the ground? He has the talent, but I have trained a lot of nice horses, and it takes more than talent. They have to have the good mind-set, and there are a lot other variables.”

One of the variables Condilenios mentioned was a healthy appetite. He was a bit concerned about how Crew Leader was eating heading into Sunday’s race.

“It’s not like he’s leaving a pile of feed, it’s just that he’s left more food in his feed tub than he normally does,” said Condilenios. “He ate a lot better the last few days, so he should be okay for Sunday.”

Plan B for Condilenios Sunday is to run multiple sprint stakes winner Almost Time, who is coming off of a sixth-place finish in the George Royal.

“I’m not going to run them both,” he said. “Crew Leader is the main focus, but if he backs off of his feed again we’ll go with Almost Time. I would rather wait with him, but he came out of the George Royal in great shape so he’ll go if Crew Leader doesn’t.”

Condilenios hasn’t given up on Teide by any means. In his first start this year, Teide finished a disappointing fourth in the George Royal with Chad Hoverson aboard.

“Chad said Teide didn’t really try, and he only got beat a few lengths so I think he’s going to be fine,” said Condilenios. “After being injured last year he may have been protecting himself. He came out of the race really well, and maybe he’ll have more confidence with a race behind him. I think he’ll run a good race when we bring him back in the John Longden. He is 7 now, so maybe he has lost a step or two, and I did expect him to run better than he did in the George Royal. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Three from spill looking good

Trainer Troy Taylor was pleased with the way Dyna Stroll ran in his fifth-place finish behind Noosa Beach in the George Royal, and he is looking for another good effort in Sunday’s feature. Dyna Stroll hadn’t raced since he was involved in a three-horse spill in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park last Aug. 2.

“You never know how they are going to come back after being involved in an accident,” said Taylor. “He ran a good race in the George Royal, and he just ran into a tough horse. It’s a tough race Sunday, but I think he’ll run a good race.”

The two other horses involved in the spill came out of the incident in great shape. Stachys came back to finish third in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park and then won the $150,000 Zia Park Derby. Professor Pollard returned close to a month later to win the Beaufort Stakes at Northlands by over 10 lengths.

Injured groom in seriuos condition

Mark Walker, a groom who was kicked in the head and rushed to the hospital Thursday morning, is in serious condition at Vancouver General Hospital, according to trainer Brian Giesbrecht. Walker, who works for trainer Craig MacPherson, lives at Giesbrecht’s farm in Aldergrove.

“I talked to his brother and he told me they have Mark in an induced coma,” said Giesbrecht.