05/15/2003 11:00PM

Longstaff excited about top filly


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Owner-trainer-breeder Tom Longstaff is on a roll. Last year Longstaff had a tremendous year with his 2-year-olds, and he still can't get over winning both juvenile races on British Columbia Cup Day with Don't Pali Me in the Nursery and Dancewithavixen in the Debutante.

"It was awesome," he said. "And right now I'm pretty excited about how Dancewithavixen is training."

Dancewithavixen ran only one more time in 2002, finishing a troubled fifth in the Sadie Diamond Futurity. She moved to the head of the local 3-year-old filly division with a two-length win in the Fair Lady Stakes May 3 and figures to be among the favorites when she runs in the 6 1/2-furlong Supernaturel Stakes on Monday.

Longstaff was also rethinking his original plans for Dancewithavixen this year. Going into 2003 he also had hopes that his 3-year-old filly Rainbows Forever was going to be a stakes horse and he was planning to keep them apart by running one of them at Emerald. Rainbows Forever has not progressed as much as he had hoped, and now Longstaff isn't sure where he will run Dancewithavixen following her race Monday.

"If she comes out of the race in good shape, I would like to try and stretch her out," he said. But the next stakes here is short so I might look at [Emerald]. I'm not sure, though, we'll just have to see how things shape up."

Longstaff won the first 2-year-old race at the meeting with Louie Downtown, who sped 3 1/2 furlongs in 40.74 seconds to win by 2 3/4 lengths last Sunday. He is a full brother to Don't Pali Me and will make his next start in the Ladnesian July 13.

"He came out of his race just fine, but there's nothing for him until then, so I'll turn him out for about three weeks," Longstaff said. "He's got a license to be a good one."

Longstaff also said that he had three other 2-year-olds and that "they can all run a bit."

Valdez off to fast start

Felipe Valdez is Dancewithavixen's regular rider, and he is off to a very good start at the meet, currently tied with Pedro Alvarado as the leading jockey. Valdez spent the winter riding at Sam Houston and was happy with the way things went in Texas.

After finishing eighth in the Sam Houston standings with 34 wins, Valdez said he "came home with a lot of confidence."

Valdez said that his agent in Texas wanted him to go to Lone Star but he declined the offer.

"I really like riding in Vancouver, and the Lone Star meet is very tough," he said. "There's close to 90 riders there."

Valdez, who will turn 25 on May 26, appears to have gained some maturity over the winter, and he hopes to contend for the top spot in the jockey standings.

"I'm in the best shape of my career, and I think I've just grown up a bit," he said. "I'm taking this a lot more seriously than I have in the past."

Serna out with broken pelvis

Fernando Serna, who is coming off his best season as a rider at Hastings, fractured his pelvis in four places when 2-year-old Sharp Image flipped and landed on him just before being loaded into the starting gate before the fourth race Sunday. Serna was released from the hospital Thursday, and according to his agent, Gordon Rumble, is in good spirits and should be back riding in six to eight weeks.

"He was a bit lucky that his pelvis only broke on the one side, and it should heal pretty quickly," said Rumble.

Elana D'Amour impresses, stays up

Elana D'amour, local horse of the year in 2002, looked as good as ever with a two-length win over Lilsisterlightning in the 6 1/2-furlong Strawberry Morn last Sunday. Sam Krasner was aboard for the first time, and he was suitably impressed.

"She was horse of the year last year, and I can see why," he said. "She's just a real racemare."

The Strawberry Morn wasn't the cleanest-run race, and Elana D'amour was the cause of some of the problems. When Krasner asked her to make her move approaching the far turn, she moved out from the rail and forced the fourth-place finisher, Secondary School, to take up sharply. But after a long inquiry the result stood.

"When we first saw it," said Keith Smith, senior steward at Hastings, "we thought it would be an easy decision" to disqualify Elana D'amour. "But after taking a closer look," he said, the incident didn't appear to cost Secondary School a position, "so we didn't take any action."

Part of the reason no action was taken was that Secondary School had to take up at the top of the stretch when the front-running R C Gangster backed up suddenly, and that incident may have cost Secondary School more than the first.

Smith said, "This board of stewards look for reasons to defend the outcome of the race, rather than reasons to disqualify. All races should be judged right through to the wire, and we have to determine how the interference affected the outcome of the race."