05/18/2013 12:35PM

Hastings: Herbie D the one to catch in John Longden 6000

Four-Footed Fotos
Herbie D figures to be on the lead in the $50,000 John Longden 6000 Stakes.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Herbie D, the champion sprinter in British Columbia in 2012, will make his seasonal debut in the $50,000 John Longden 6000 at Hastings on Monday. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up headlines an eight-race card that also includes the $50,000 Strawberry Morn, where Evelyn’s Dancer figures to be an overwhelming favorite in a six-horse field.

There are five horses entered in the Longden, and four of them figure to be chasing Herbie D, who is clearly the speed of the race. Post time for the Victoria Day holiday card is 1:50 p.m. Pacific.

Trained by Rob Gilker, Herbie D ran just three times last year, but in all of his races he put on a dazzling display of speed and stamina. After he dueled for a half-mile through wicked fractions in his first start of the year, most observers assumed he would fade along with the horse he was battling with, Time Machine. Instead, Herbie D went on to win the $40,000 optional claimer by 2 1/2 lengths.

His second race was even more impressive. He sat a length off unheard of fractions of 21.69 seconds and 43.86 before drawing off to score an easy 4 1/2-length win over Three Wood. Herbie D closed his abbreviated season with a win in the $50,000 Express.

Gilker likes the way Herbie D is coming up to the Longden.

“What can I say?” Gilker said. “He’s a freak. He’s had minor problems we’ve had to deal with, but he is doing fine right now and I expect he’ll run his race.”

Amadeo Perez retains the mount.

Shrug was allowed to cruise through leisurely fractions on his way to a gutsy win over Devil in Disguise in his first start at Hastings in the $50,000 George Royal on April 28. The shape of the Longden will be completely different with Herbie D in the field, but Shrug can stalk and it is hard to imagine his connections want to see him dueling with Herbie D.

Trainer Dino Condilenios was pleased with the way Shrug came out of his win and was looking forward to Monday’s race.

“There are only five horses in the field, but it’s a very competitive race and any one of them could win it,” Condilenios said. “My horse is doing exceptionally well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him improve in his second start here.

Trainer Troy Taylor is hoping either Commander or Devil in Disguise will be able to run down Herbie D.

Commander suffered his first lost in Western Canada in the George Royal and really wants more distance.

Devil in Disguise was game while losing by a head to Shrug and could pick up the pieces if Herbie D and Shrug get carried away up front.

Grade 3 winner Senor Rojo could benefit the most if an all-out duel develops.