05/23/2013 2:47PM

Hastings: Herbie D rises to Gilker’s expectations

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Herbie D was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 97 in winning the John Longden 6000.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Herbie D answered his skeptics when he put on another impressive display of speed winning the $50,000 John Longden 6000 going 6 1/2 furlongs last Monday.

There were no questions regarding how fast the talented sprinter is, but there were many who thought he didn’t have the class to beat the kind of field he was facing in the Longden. Leading up to the race a constant refrain of “he’s never beaten anything” echoed through the Hastings backstretch last week.

Trainer Robert Gilker was confident going into the race, and Herbie D didn’t let him down.

“You can’t help who your competition is, but the way he won his previous races certainly led me to believe he was a good horse,” said Gilker. “He really proved himself in the Longden, and he showed us everything we wanted to see and beyond.”

Indeed he did. Herbie D broke on top and after a reasonable first quarter-mile in 22.27 seconds he was put to the test by Shrug, who pressured Herbie D through a fast half-mile in 44.99 seconds. They remained locked in a duel until Herbie D started to pull away at the top of the stretch. He finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of Shrug, and the final time of 1:15.21 that he posted for 6 1/2 furlongs is just shy of the track record of 1:15.00 set by Torque Converter in 1996. He was given a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

Gilker gave a lot of credit to Amadeo Perez, who has not lost on Herbie D since he became Herbie D’s rider in the horse’s first start last year.

“It was a great ride among other great rides Amadeo has given us,” said Gilker. “I was very impressed the way Amadeo took Herbie back the first quarter. He had plenty of horse left when Shrug tested him.”

Gilker was all smiles when he was asked how Herbie D came out of the race.

“He wasn’t really puffing when he came back to the winner’s circle and he’s been fine at the barn,” said Gilker. “We’ll see how he trains before we decide where to run him next.”

Wherever Herbie D runs next the goal is to have him in peak condition for the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs Aug. 19.

“The Mile has been our focus since last year,” said Giker. “We have three options for his next race, and there is a good chance we’ll keep him here for the Churchill.”

Gilker was referring to the 1 1/16-mile Sir Winston Churchill June 9. Herbie D is technically undefeated at the distance. He was placed first when he finished second to Jump Up and Kissme in the B.C. Cup Stellar’s Jay in his first route attempt as a 3-year-old in 2011. After going unplaced in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby going 1 1/8 miles, he ran away and hid from his overmatched rivals in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes.

“It’s either keep him here or ship him across the mountains to Northlands Park for a six-furlong sprint,” said Gilker. “I don’t really want to shorten him up, and it can be hard on them going that far. There is also a one-mile race at Emerald Downs we’re looking at, but nothing has been decided yet.”

Condilenios tips hat, looks ahead

Trainer Dino Condilenios said Shrug, who was ridden by Frank Fuentes, came out of the race in good shape and would either run in the Churchill or wait for the $50,000 Lieutenant Governors’ July 1.

“Hats off to Gilker and Herbie D,” said Condilenios. “Frank said Shrug never quit running and he just got outrun by a very nice horse. If he runs in the Churchill and then back in the Lieutenant Governors’ that would be four races in 12 weeks and that’s a lot for a good horse. We’ll see how he’s doing before we make our final decision.”

Condilenios was also pleased with the performance by Shooting Jacket, who rallied to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race in his first start at Hastings. Shooting Jacket was part of a package of horses Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. recently purchased from the Darley Stable. He’s typical of the kind of horses Swift has been buying from Darley since 2006. He has a strong pedigree but he didn’t live up to his expectations in four races as a 2-year-old in Great Britain last year.

“He had been working well, so I thought he would run a good race,” said Condilenios. “He’s kind of a nervous horse, but he’s settled down quite a bit since we took down a wall in his stall and he found a buddy to keep him company.”

The way Shooting Jacket was reaching for more ground in the deep stretch with leading apprentice Marlo Dunn aboard, he should improve when he stretches out to a middle distance.

“The race set up nicely for him, and Marlo gave him a great ride,” said Condilenios. “You never know, of course, but all the horses we get from Darley are bred for the classics, so I don’t think he’ll have any trouble going long.”