05/13/2011 1:06PM

Hastings: Senor Rojo sprinting again in Longden

Four-Footed Fotos
Senor Rojo, with Richard Hamel up, wins the BC Premiers.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Senor Rojo looked spectacular this spring while preparing for his first start of the year in the $50,000 George Royal for 3-year-olds and up.

Not considered a sprinter, Senor Rojo was sent off at 10-1. He ran to his looks, however, finishing a fast-closing second to Grade 3 Longacres Mile winner Noosa Beach in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint.

Senor Rojo will still be sprinting when he returns in the 6 1/2-furlong John Longden 6000 on Monday, May 23, and it is safe to say he will be a lot less than 10-1.

Trainer Dave Forster likes the way Senor Rojo, the 2010 local Horse of the Year, is coming into the Longden.

“He’ll run a good race,” said Forster. “He’s doing really well.”

Senor Rojo closed out 2010 with wins in the 1 1/8-mile Sir Winston Churchill and the Grade 3, $100,000 Premiers at 1 3/8 miles. Forster laughed when it was mentioned that Senor Rojo probably wants more distance than is being offered in the Longden.

“It’s funny,” he said. “When he was a younger horse, all the writers said he couldn’t go long. Now he can’t go short. He’s just a nice horse, and I think he’s fine at any distance. Obviously we will be pointing him to longer races, because that’s where the money is.”

Senor Rojo just might be a better horse than he was last year. He earned his career-best Beyer Speed Figure, 90, in the George Royal, and according to Forster he has grown up a bit.

“He should be better as a 5-year-old,” said Forster. “He’s a fully mature horse now, and he has filled out quite a bit.”

Last year Forster shipped Senor Rojo to Emerald Downs, where he finished second to Noosa Beach in the Mount Rainier and then 10th in Noosa Beach’s Longacres Mile. After Senor Rojo finished second to Noosa Beach in the George Royal, Forster said he has seen enough of that talented Washington-bred.

“I don’t want to have to hook Noosa Beach again,” said Forster. “If we go anywhere with him it will be Edmonton.”

Forster pointed to the $75,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands on Aug. 20 as a possibility for Senor Rojo. The 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare is run on the same day as the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby.

“It’s a ways away, but if he’s still doing well, we’ll probably go,” said Forster. “At least we know he can go that far.”

Tiede definite for Longden

Trainer Dino Condilenios has three possibilities for the Longden, but the only one he is sure about running is Teide. He is also nominating Almost Time and Crewl Leader.

“Teide is a definite as long as he comes out of his work this morning okay,” Condilenios said Friday.

Exercise rider Christine Loseth looked like she had a handful when she breezed Teide a half-mile in 48.40 seconds just after the renovation break Friday morning.

“It was a good move,” said Condilenios. “I got him galloping out in just over a minute.”

Condilenios said Almost Time came out of his win in a $50,000 optional race May 8 in good shape but he didn’t really want to run him back that quickly. He would like to find an easier spot for Crew Leader, but if he can’t find one he would likely run in the Longden.

Henson likes versatile claim

Trainer Steve Henson is looking forward to running Lady Alex in the $50,000 Senate Appointee for fillies and mares next Saturday. Henson claimed her for $32,000 out of a winning race on the Santa Anita turf course April 3. In his first start for Henson, she finished third by a head in a $40,000 claiming race on the grass at Hollywood.

“She’s probably better suited going long, but she’ll run on turf, dirt, Poly short, long, mud, or dry, it doesn’t matter” said Henson. “I think she’ll fit in here nicely. Is she a stakes horse? We’ll find out.”

In her only start on dirt, she romped to a 6 1/4-length win in a $20,000 claiming race at Santa Anita Feb. 25.

“She loves it here,” said Henson. “I plan to give her a nice easy breeze on Saturday, and that should tell us where we’re at.”

Puck rules

Many people consider Vancouver a major international city. It did a great job of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, and in 1986 it successfully held the World’s Fair. When it comes to sports, however, it is a one-horse town. The horse is the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks. The residents are crazed about their team and because of that, Hastings is making a schedule change next Sunday.

The puck drops for the Canucks-San Jose Sharks third-round playoff game at noon so Hastings has moved the first post to 3:20 p.m.

If you need any more proof about how serious they are about their hockey in Vancouver – the game is being played in San Jose.