11/04/2004 12:00AM

Heads making late run at title


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Just a few weeks ago, it appeared Dino Condilenios was going to waltz away with his second straight training title at Hastings. Although there is still a very good chance that Condilenios will repeat, a late surge by both Harold Barroby and Barb Heads has turned what was once a foregone conclusion into a real horse race.

Condilenios has won 34 races at the meet and has a clear lead heading into the stretch. But it is possible that Barroby, with 29 wins, and Heads, with 28, could pull off an upset.

Another training title for Barroby wouldn't be that big a deal. After all, he is the all-time leading trainer at Hastings and is a member of the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame. For Heads, on the other hand, it would be a big achievement.

"I hadn't really thought about it until lately," she said. "I just try to do my own thing, keeping the horses running as good as I can and pick the best spots for them. But it would be very special to be the first woman to win the title."

Her horses are all running very well, but she knows she will need some luck at the entry booth to catch Condilenios.

"I have a dozen horses left to run at the meet, and it's conceivable that I could catch Dino," she said. "But he does a really good job, and it's more a matter of who can get their horses into the races they want. There's just not that many horses left on the grounds, and it can be difficult to get them in the proper spots right now."

Heads said she would be a lot more excited about the prospect of catching Condilenios if a couple of photos had gone her way on the Oct. 23-24 weekend.

"Actually, I had four horses finish second that weekend, and two of them were in photo-finishes," she said. "If all four had won I would only be a couple of wins behind Dino instead of six, and obviously my chances would be a lot better."

Considering her poor start at the beginning of the meet, it is surprising that Head is this close. After the first month of the season she had won only 2 races from 25 starts, an 8 percent clip. Compare that to last year, when she won with 18 percent of her starters, and to her career numbers of 115 wins from 731 starts for a 15 percent clip.

"I've never had as many horses as I had at the beginning of the meet this year, and it took some time to get to know both the horses and the new owners that I became involved with over the winter," she said. "It just took a while to get comfortable with everyone involved, but once everything got organized and sorted out, things got going a lot better. The first month or so was pretty rough, but now I can smile when I come to the track in the mornings."

Snow: 'Don't wake me'

A couple of other trainers who have been on a roll lately are Daryl Snow and Jim Brown.

Snow has won with 5 of his last 10 starters, and the top horse in his barn, Future Flash, was an impressive winner of the Autumn Leaves, a restricted allowance race, last weekend.

"I don't know why things are going so well, but don't wake me up out of the dream I'm having," he said. "There's been a lot of bumps along the road with Future Flash, but that was a great win for him. It was a real team effort. Give credit to the groom, blacksmith, vet, and everyone involved with the horse."

Snow said Future Flash would probably make his next start in the Au Revoir, a $30,000 open allowance race on closing day. Future Flash has been stakes placed three times and is a full-brother to 2002 B.C. Derby winner Cruising Cat.

For the second straight year, Jim Brown sent out a maiden to win the $50,000 Fantasy Stakes, at 1 1/16 miles the lone middle-distance stakes for 2-year-old fillies at the meet. Last year, he won the Fantasy with Comic Opera, and this year it was Country Kat, who paid a handsome $37.30.

"I'm surprised she paid that much," said Brown. "I had touted just about everyone I knew, but I guess they weren't listening."

Brown said Country Kat was nominated to the Ascot Graduation but probably wouldn't run and will likely be sent home for the year.