06/27/2003 11:00PM

Let's Go Rusty an upstart to watch


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - If Lord Nelson runs his usual race in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lieutenant Governors' at Hastings Tuesday, he won't get beat. Lord Nelson, who was bred by his owners Russell and Lois Bennett, dominated the local older handicap division in 2001 and 2002 and has been exceptional at the nine-furlong distance of the Lieutenant Governors'. But, his trainer, Dino Condilenios, doesn't discount the chances of Let's Go Rusty, who he will also saddle in Tuesday's race.

"I'm just not sure if Lord Nelson is as good as he was in the past," Condilenios said. "But don't get me wrong. He worked super the other day [59.80 seconds June 24] and his feet seem to be fine right now. It's just that Let's Go Rusty has really blossomed lately. His coat has really started to shine and he's a lot more aggressive when he trains."

Let's Go Rusty comes into the Lieutenant Governors' following an exciting nose win over Commodore Craig in the 1 1/16-mile John Longden 6000 on June 14. He earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, which compares favorably with those of his competition Tuesday. Prior to his win in the Longden, the highest level he had ever won for was when he beat claiming horses in the 2001 B.C. Cup Starter Handicap at 1 3/8 miles.

Let's Go Rusty should enjoy the added sixteenth of a mile of this race. If he holds his form throughout the year, he figures to be a major player in the $100,000 Premiers at 11 furlongs October 12. Sam Krasner will ride.

With Commodore Craig in the field there's no question that the pace will be a lively one. Ekati also has early speed.

Silver Donn, who could be coming up to a big race, should get a nice stalking trip behind the front-runners.

"He really needed his last start," said trainer Bob Rohman, referring to Silver Donn's third-place finish in the Longden. "He had only had one sprint going into the race and he really didn't get anything out of that. Plus his blood was off, but now we've managed to get it where we want it. I think he's the horse to beat."

Silver Donn dominated the 3-year-old division from May through August last year, and in his only try at nine furlongs he finished third in the B.C. Derby. Pedro Alvarado will be back aboard.

Futural was good enough to beat Grade 1 horses in the 2001 Hollywood Gold Cup, only to have his number taken down. He has run well in his two starts at Hastings.