05/24/2013 2:55PM

Hastings: Pop Artist hard to handle in Sunday feature

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Pop Artist heads a solid field of older horses in a $25,000 claiming race that will serve as Sunday’s feature at Hastings. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint attracted seven horses but, as usual, Pop Artist is the one to beat.

Trained by a white-hot Dino Condilenios, Pop Artist arrived at Hastings in 2007 as part of a package of horses Swift Thoroughbred purchased from Darley Stables. He won his first two starts at Hastings and appeared well on his way to the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby. Condilenios shipped Pop Artist to Northlands Park to run in the $50,000 Western Canada but he had a rough trip and finished second. In his next start he finished fourth in a $75,000 optional race July 26 and was done for the year.

Considering the tremendous potential he showed as a sophomore, it was a bit of a surprise when he resurfaced in a $25,000 claiming race in his first start as a 4-year-old. Physical problems clearly have had an impact on his career, but Condilenios has done a great job managing the 7-year-old gelding.

In 2011-12 Pop Artist compiled a 6-2-0 from 10 starts. The strong record includes a race where he finished first but was disqualified to second for causing interference coming out of the first turn. He began his 2013 season with a front-running win in a $25,000 claiming race April 13 with Dave Wilson aboard.

Frank Fuentes picks up the mount from Wilson, who was injured in a spill last Sunday.

Stakes winner Ganbei has never won sprinting but he rallied to finish second in a quickly run $25,000 claiming race going 6 1/2 furlongs May 5 and is certainly eligible for improve in his second start this year. Trained by Mel Snow, Ganbei won the Richmond Derby Trial in 2009 and the S.W. Randall Plate in 2010.

Mia’s Miracle finished second to Pop Artist in his first start here and finished fourth after getting fried in speed duel when he broke from the rail in a similar race May 5. He could be dangerous from a stalking position with leading rider Aaron Gryder getting the mount from trainer Monica Russell.

If his last two works are any indication, Briartic County could be ready for a big effort in his first start of the year. Briartic County earned a bullet for his five-furlong move in 59 seconds May 9 and he was on his toes when he breezed six furlongs in 1:13.20 a week later.