05/17/2013 1:31PM

Hastings: Wando Woman loses some vision, but keeps her focus on track

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Wando Woman wins the Strawberry Morn Stakes in 2011 at Hastings.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Wando Woman, who will make her seasonal debut in a $35,000 optional claimer at Hastings on Sunday, is a seasoned veteran. She has started 21 times, and among her five wins are scores in the CTHS Sales Stakes in 2010 and the Vancouver Sun and Strawberry Morn in 2011.

Nonetheless, trainer Cindy Krasner has treated Wando Woman like a 2-year-old while preparing her for her first start as 6-year-old mare. The reason for the all-inclusive training regimen is that following Wando Woman’s third-place finish in the Delta Coleen last year she went blind in her left eye.

“We figured she got some dirt in it running in the Delta Colleen and it got infected,” said Krasner. “Within 48 hours, she lost her sight.”

Wando Woman has always been a horse with an attitude, and at first she didn’t react very well to seeing out of just one eye.

“She wasn’t handling it at all, and for the first two or three months, we were thinking broodmare,” Krasner said. “But all of a sudden, she turned the corner. She started to accept everything, and she was happy to be around other horses.”

Krasner gave a lot of credit to Reg and Marie Peat, who own the farm in Mount Lehman, British Columbia, where Wando Woman was sent to recover from her traumatic experience.

“Reg and Marie went through a lot with her,” Krasner said. “They even gave up their holidays to help nurse her back to health.”

Krasner has been happy with how Wando Woman has trained this spring, but isn’t sure how she’ll react when she is put to the test Sunday.

“We treated her like she was a baby who was just getting started,” Krasner said. “She’s been to the paddock, starting gate, worked inside and outside of horses. You name it, she’s done it all. So far, she has handled everything perfectly. How she’ll react when she’s under the heat of the battle, I just don’t know.”

Wando Woman looked great when she worked a very sharp three furlongs in 36 seconds flat and galloped out four furlongs in 48.60 with her usual rider Frank Fuentes aboard Friday morning. More impressive was the way she came out of the gate when she worked five furlongs on May 5. A notoriously slow starter, Wando Woman broke out of there like she was gunning for the lead in a sprint. That isn’t likely to happen Sunday, though. She’ll probably be last early, and if she runs her usual race, she’ll make her presence known late.

“We aren’t concerned about where she finishes,” Krasner said. “We just want to see how she handles it all and go from there. “

MacPherson hopes to avoid duel

New faces helped turn Sunday’s card into one of the best at the meet. The shortest field of the seven races carded drew nine horses, and barring scratches, the average field size is 9.6 horses per race.

Trainer Craig MacPherson isn’t sure what to expect from newbie Alert in Class, who is entered in a first-level $35,000 optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies that drew nine horses and goes as the fourth race. Alert in Class is coming off a rough trip at Fair Grounds, where she tried turf for the first time. In her previous start, she won a key maiden special weight race at Sam Houston. The horse that finished second, Omnitap, won a one-mile straight maiden race at Lone Star by more than 12 lengths in her next start. Diamond Lucy, fourth, romped in her next two starts and earned a 75 Beyer Speed Figure for her easy score in a first-level allowance race at Lone Star on April 25.

“She’s a big-sized filly, and I’m not really sure how she fits here,” MacPherson said. “She breezed an easy five furlongs, and she handled it well.”

MacPherson also has the speedy Officer’s Charm in the race, and having two horses with similar styles poses a bit of a dilemma for the veteran trainer.

Officer’s Charm is making her first start this year. She won her debut in a $40,000 optional maiden claiming race going 3 1/2 furlongs and then set wicked fractions of 21.49 seconds and 44.12 before understandably fading to fourth when she was sent off as the heavy favorite going 6 1/2 furlongs in the $50,000 B.C. Cup Debutante.

“I’m just going to have to let them run their own race,” MacPherson said. “I don’t know Alert in Class that well, but Officer’s Charm definitely has a lot of speed. Officer’s Charm has been a lot more relaxed in her works this year, though. I am certainly hoping I don’t create my own speed duel.”

◗ The New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society is holding a Thoroughbred Hunter Classic Series to help raise much-needed funds for its worthy cause of providing homes for retired racehorses. New Stride’s $7,500 series will begin at Thunderbird Show Park on June 2, then Milner Downs Equestrian Centre July 20 and 27. The finale will be held at Thunderbird Show Park in late September.