07/18/2012 1:46PM

Hastings: Herbie D better than ever following surgery to repair torn suspensory


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There is something about the majesty of Thoroughbreds that can bring grown men to tears and Herbie D had trainer Rob Gilker pretty choked up when he won an optional $40,000 claiming race at Hastings last Sunday.

Herbie D was making his first start since he easily won the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes last October. Despite the lengthy layoff, Herbie D came within .22 of a second of equaling the 1:15.00 track record for 6 1/2 furlongs. He battled with Time Machine through extremely fast interior fractions of 21.67 and 44.05 seconds, and then drew away from the field to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Leading rider Amadeo Perez never uncocked his stick and if he hadn’t eased up approaching the wire Herbie D would probably be the new standard bearer.

“It was a very emotional win for all of us” said Gilker. “He limped off the track after winning a stakes in his last race and to have him come back and run like that is pretty phenomenal.”

According to Gilker, Herbie D tore a suspensory in the CTHS Sales Stakes. He was operated on by Dr. Nick Kleider and the procedure was a resounding success.

“He had used a similar treatment on another of our horses and it worked out well,” said Gilker. “This couldn’t have gone much better.”

Herbie D has won four times and finished second once in six starts. The only time he finished out of the money was when he was rushed into the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby last year. It was just his fourth start and second route attempt. Gilker gives a lot of credit to Hastings jockey room custodian and paddock judge Corky Russell. Russell is also one of the best exercise riders at Hastings.

“When Herbie first came to us he was a nervous 2-year-old and we really didn’t think he was going to make it as a race horse,” said Gilker. “Corky saw something in him, though, and never gave up on him. He spent months and months working with him and eventually turned him around. All the credit should go to him.”

Gilker isn’t sure when Herbie D will make his next start. He appeared to come out of the race in good shape but he hadn’t been back to the track yet. Gilker said he would know more about his condition after he galloped Wednesday.

“It looks good but we really don’t have any plans for him,” said Gilker. “I didn’t think he was going to make it to the races this soon. He just kind of dragged us along.”

One race Gilker ruled out was the $75,000 B.C. Cup Classic on Aug. 6.

“That would be asking too much of him to go a mile and an eighth off just one sprint,” said Gilker.

In previous years Herbie D would have had a place to run on B.C. Cup Day but the Sprint was eliminated from the card this year.

Proud Ruler sets record for 2-year-olds

Proud Ruler set a track record on Sunday, or did he? The 2-year-old colt sped the about six-furlong distance in 1:11.15, which eclipsed the 1:11.66 set by Taylor’s Deal last year. Some people would argue, however, that since the race is timed from the six-furlong pole that is a six furlong race.

The six-furlong record is 1:09.44 and is held by B R Remark.

The run up is about 55 feet for the about distance compared with roughly 15 feet for six furlongs. Only 2-year-olds go the about distance. When the about distance was introduced a few years ago, it was carded as a six-furlong race. Management at Hastings felt it was better to deem the race an about distance to differentiate between the two races. Run up distances can vary significantly. For example, the run up for the six-furlong start at Churchill Downs is 100 feet.

However you want to look at it, Proud Victor won the $20,000 maiden claiming race by 8 3/4 lengths and appears to have a bright future. He was making his second start for trainer Jodie Rawson and was claimed out of the race by trainer Greg Tracy, who was acting on behalf of Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd.

“I watched the replay of his first race and I liked the way he ran while facing a pretty tough group of maiden allowance horses,” said Tracy. “He is also a B.C.-bred and eligible to all the stakes races.

Tracy said Proud Victor would make his next start in the $50,000 B.C. Cup Nursery on Aug. 6.

Tracy is closing in on 1,000 wins in his career. Going into the Wednesday-night card at Northlands Park he has won 990 races.

◗ Speed was dominant at Hastings last weekend and there will be a lot of speed on display Friday night with three races carded at 3 1/2 furlongs. Post time for the seven-race card is 7:15 p.m. Pacific.