05/25/2012 12:42PM

Hastings: The Gov tries tougher in River Rock Casino Stakes

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Trainer Phil Hall was encouraged enough by The Gov’s win in a mile and sixteenth open allowance race May 21 to give him a shot in the $50,000 River Rock Casino next Saturday. The River Rock is the first middle-distance stakes race at the meet and it will start separating which horses might be players in the Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby Sept. 9 and which ones will be looking for easier spots.

According to Hall, The Gov benefited from spending the winter in Arizona where he ran four times at Turf Paradise. In his last start there he won a $30,000 optional maiden race going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

“He needed the seasoning and he is still a pretty green horse,” said Hall. “I thought he could run a bit when I turned him out last summer and when I decided to go to Turf Paradise he was high on the list of horses I wanted to take.”

In his first start at Hastings he had one horse beat after the first half-mile and then made a strong late move to finish second behind his stablemate Unquiet in a $50,000 optional race going six furlongs. Hall thought he might improve when he stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth but he didn’t expect to see him on the lead. When he saw the very slow fractions for the half mile, 49.59 seconds, and six furlongs, 1:15.13, he felt a lot better about where The Gov was sitting in the race.

“At first I was surprised but when I saw the splits I started grinning,” said Hall. “He ran his best race going 7 1/2 furlongs so I thought the farther the better.”

The pace will be a lot faster in the River Rock but The Gov has shown he doesn’t need the lead and Hall thinks he has a shot to improve in his second start going around three turns.

“He came out of his race in great shape and has trained very well since,” said Hall. “He could turn out to be a pretty nice horse if he ever got his act together. I gallop him and he is still an orangutan in the mornings. He’s been pretty well behaved in the afternoons, though.”

The Gov is owned by Hall and his father, Robert W. Hall. The elder Hall, 82, was inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame last year mostly due to his work with George Royal. Hall trained and owned George Royal who is the only horse bred in British Columbia to ever win a Grade 1 race. The Gov was named after Hall, who couldn’t remember when or why people started calling him The Gov. He was impressed with how the horse ran in his last race.

“He was just galloping,” he said. “The rider never really got down and asked him.”

Phil Hall is also looking at running Deputy’s Command in the River Rock and possibly sending Unquiet to Northlands Park to run in the $50,000 Western Canada at six furlongs June 16.

Deputy’s Command is coming off a win in a $30,000 optional maiden claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs May 20. After beating The Gov, Unquiet set the pace and held on well to finish second in the 6 1/2-furlong Jim Coleman Province on May 5.

Deputy’s Command will be stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth for the first time in the River Rock.

“I think Deputy’s Command will improve going longer,” said Hall. “I want to keep Unquiet sprinting and hopefully we’ll find a little easier company for him at Northlands.”

Crew Leader works for Churchill Stakes

Trainer Dino Condilenios was encouraged by Crew Leader’s five-furlong work in 1:01.40 seconds over a track rated good Thursday morning. Using Hillingdon as a target, Crew Leader blew by his stablemate on the stretch turn and then finished full of run with exercise rider Christine Loseth in the irons. Crew Leader was one of the top handicap horses at Hastings last year but he hasn’t shown much in his two races this year in the George Royal and the John Longden 6000. Both races were sprints, however, and Crew Leader figures to improve when he stretches out to a mile and a sixteenth in the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill next Sunday.

“I was really happy with the work,” said Condilenios. “Hopefully we got a few things straightened out. I know he has won sprinting but he really wants to go long so we should know where we’re going with him after the Churchill.”

Last year Crew Leader won the mile and a sixteenth S.W. Randall with a 90 Beyer Speed Figure and then ran a big race to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile.