06/09/2004 11:00PM

Longden distance just right for Roscoe Pito

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Last year Roscoe Pito won five straight stake races, including two of the biggest prizes at Hastings, the Grade 2 British Columbia Derby and the Grade 3 Premiers. He was also named local horse of the year. After two disappointing efforts in 2004 - a fifth-place finish in the George Royal Handicap and a very lackluster effort when he finished eighth in the Hong Kong Jockey Club - he is looking to get back on track in the John Longden 6000 this Saturday.

His trainer, John Snow, has good reason to be optimistic about an improved effort Saturday. All of his stakes wins came in races going at least the Longden distance of 1 1/16 miles, and this will be his first try at a middle distance this season.

"I still think he can sprint with the top horses here," said Snow. "But he was out of whack the first time he ran, and the second time he was ready to go but he just had an unlucky trip. Nothing really went right."

Roscoe Pito will also be reunited with leading rider Pedro Alvarado, who was aboard for his wins in the B.C. Derby and Premiers. Alvarado inherited the mount from Sam Krasner when Krasner was injured in mid-season last year. Krasner rode Roscoe Pito in his first two starts this year.

"Not to take anything away from Sam. He's a great rider, but things just weren't clicking," said Snow. "I rode him on Ice Girl last weekend and he won for me, so it's really nothing against him. The owners just wanted to make a change, so I did."

Snow is pleased with the way Roscoe Pito is training and expects a big effort Saturday.

"He had a great work last weekend, and he's just raring to go."

The Longden didn't attract Lord Nelson, clearly the top older horse in the province. His trainer, Dino Condilenios, said, "He's never been better, but you can't dance every dance."

Condilenios said that Lord Nelson will make his next start in the $100,000 Lieutenant Governors' July 1. Condilenios was also looking at the Premiers as a major goal for Lord Nelson this year. He finished second to Fancy As in the 2001 Premiers but skipped the race the last two years.

"It's really the only major race for older horses at Hastings that he

hasn't won," said Condilenios.

Lt. Governors' looking good

With Yougottawanna a likely starter, the Lieutenant Governors' is shaping up to be a great race. Owner Peter Redekop claimed Yougottawanna for $80,000 out of a winning race April 22 at Bay Meadows and ran him back to win the $100,000 Seabiscuit Breeders' Cup Handicap May 31.

A 5-year-old gelding, Yougottawanna is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, with Christy Wiebe in charge of his horses at Hastings.

"He should be up here sometime soon," she said. "They're just waiting for a plane."

Prepping for the derby

Lord Samarai is using Saturday's Klondike as a prep for next weekend's $100,000 Alberta Derby. His trainer, Rob VanOverschot, is looking at the Klondike as more of a work than a race.

"I was going to work him a mile and then ship him, but they only had three horses entered in the Klondike all morning, so I thought, 'Why not run him,' " VanOverschot said. "He's the kind of horse that will relax early and then run hard for three furlongs, so it shouldn't hurt him."

Another horse headed to Alberta for the derby is Mark of Diablo. He was an easy winner of the City of Vancouver Stakes May 24. He looked good working six furlongs in 1:13.60 and galloping out seven furlongs in 1:26.80 with Felipe Valdez aboard Thursday.

"I was pleased with the work," said his trainer, Peter Stephen. "Felipe said he finished strong and that's what we were looking for."

Mark of Diablo will ship to Calgary Thursday, gallop there Friday and run Saturday.

* The Vancouver City Council has voted to move the Hastings application for slots on to the next step, public hearings. The public hearings will begin July 15. If slots are approved, purses are expected to rise by at least 50 percent.

* Jockey Alan Cuthbertson had his conditional license canceled by the province's Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch stewards when he submitted a urine sample that tested positive for the cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine. According to the stewards' ruling, Cuthbertson will have to provide evidence that he is in complete control of his drug dependency problem in order to be reinstated.