05/31/2005 11:00PM

Henson sees a maturing filly in Regal Pusher


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Steve Henson was a bit surprised by the outcome of the Emerald Downs Stakes last Sunday at Hastings. Henson won the Emerald with Regal Pusher, and while he certainly thought the 3-year-old filly belonged in the race, she was a little quiet that morning, and Henson wasn't sure if she was going to be on top of her game.

"Maybe she's just maturing," said Henson. "She came out of the race bouncing, but I was a little concerned going in just because she didn't seem to be on the muscle. She's a young filly, though, and maybe it's just the way she's developing."

Henson plans to make a small change in Regal Pusher's equipment when she stretches out to 1 1/16 miles in her next start, the $40,000 Dikeakos Architects Mademoiselle Stakes June 17.

"She seemed to be waiting on horses," he said. "It looked like Backseat Becka was going to fly past my filly at the wire, but she re-broke and then galloped out five lengths in front of the rest of the field. We're going to open her blinkers up just a bit so she can see them coming at her a little better."

Dave Wilson, who is the regular rider of Backseat Becka, rode Regal Pusher, who is usually ridden by Frank Fuentes. Mike Heads, the agent for Wilson, explained the musical chairs.

"It looks like I'm a genius, but actually, it was just a matter of circumstances," he said. Heads said that Backseat Becka's trainer, Terry Clyde, "wasn't really sure if Backseat Becka was going to run, and she didn't want to hold up Davey. I knew Frank was going to ride Slewpast, who figured to be 3-5, so I took the call on Regal Pusher, and it worked out perfectly. I would have looked like an idiot if Backseat Becka had won the race, though."

According to Henson, Fuentes gets the mount back on Regal Pusher if he wants.

Slewpast had a rough trip finishing fourth in the Emerald, and according to her trainer, Robbie Anderson, she came out of the race with a minor injury.

"She got cut up a little bit just above her knee," he said. "It probably happened going into the first turn, but it doesn't seem to be serious so it shouldn't set her back too much."

Owner and trainer Terry Clyde was thrilled with Backseat Becka's second-place finish in the Emerald Downs. Backseat Becka was the champion 2-year-old filly in the province last year, but she finished a dull fourth in the Fair Lady Stakes April 17.

"Her shoulder was bothering her after the Fair Lady, so we gave her a couple of weeks of rest at the farm," Clyde said. "It was nice to see the old Backseat Becka running through the stretch again."

Roscoe Pito faces challenge in Longden 6000

Older stakes horses will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time this meet in the John Longden 6000 Saturday. Heading the list is 2004 local horse of the year and champion older horse in the province for the past four years, Lord Nelson. Lord Nelson will surely be favored, but he could have his hands full with the 2003 local horse of the year, Roscoe Pito.

Last year, Roscoe Pito's lone win came in the Longden, but his trainer, John Snow, is expecting better things this season. Roscoe Pito won his initial start of the year, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race May 14.

"I didn't really want to run against the big horse just yet," Snow said about facing Lord Nelson. "but there's not really any other spot for him, so we'll give it a go. He had his problems last year, but he's as good as ever, and I expect him to run a big race Saturday."

* Regal Red is back in training, according to trainer Robbie Anderson. She is recovering from a saucer fracture, which is similar to a bucked shin. "She's doing great," he said. "We'll X-ray her again in a couple of weeks, but right now it looks pretty good."

* Last Saturday, a tote system failure caused an interruption in wagering at Hastings. There was no wagering on the 10th race, with all of the early wagering on it refunded. The last pick three and late double, however, were paid out, as those pools were closed before the breakdown.