04/13/2012 11:18AM

Hastings: Winning Machine figures in thick of it from start of George Royal


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Winning Machine looks like the one to beat when he makes his seasonal debut in the $50,000 George Royal Stakes at Hastings Sunday. The six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up drew 12 horses but only 10 will be allowed to start.

Post time for the eight-race card is 1:50 p.m. Pacific. The George Royal goes as the last race and is scheduled for 5:20 p.m.

Based at Emerald Downs with trainer Frank Lucarelli, Winning Machine has raced twice at Hastings, and both times he made a big impact. He earned the biggest paycheck of his career when he beat subsequent Grade 1 winner Jersey Town in the British Columbia Derby for trainer Doris Harwood in 2009. Last year he closed out his season with a second behind Jebrica in the $100,000 Premiers for Lucarelli, who took over his conditioning midsummer 2010.

“He obviously likes it at Hastings,” said Lucarelli who has stables at Golden Gate and Emerald. “He runs well fresh and I feel pretty confident about his fitness level. I’m looking forward to coming up there Sunday.”

Winning Machine has tactical speed, and with a soft pace expected it wouldn’t be surprising to see jockey Leslie Mawing put him in the race right out of the gate. Winning Machine came from a stalking position when he won a six-furlong allowance race in his initial start at Emerald Downs last year.

Similar to Winning Machine, Don’twaitforme has speed but he also does his best running from a stalking position. Trained by Rob VanOverschot, Don’twaitforme will be making his first start since he finished fourth after forcing the pace in the $50,000 Express last Sept. 11. Beset by physical problems throughout his eight-race career, Don’twaitforme made three starts in 2011, winning his first two races including the $50,000 B.C. Cup Sprint.

Trainer Craig MacPherson has a new shooter in Quintons Destiny, who has been a sharp horse in Southern California this winter. A 4-year-old gelding by Yes It’s True, Quintons Destiny hasn’t been worse than second in four starts at the winter meet and he is coming off a narrow loss in a $32,000 claiming race March 17. In his previous start he came from well back to win a $20,000 claiming race. He was claimed out of the race by trainer Ted West, who was acting on behalf of Peter Redekop.

Crew Leader, the 2011 S. W. Randall Plate winner, was on his toes when he worked five furlongs in a snappy 59.60 seconds April 8. He won his first two starts last year and could be dangerous if he is able stay in touch early.