07/03/2008 11:00PM

Lord Nelson ends long career


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Lord Nelson has been officially retired. Bred by his owners, Russ and Lois Bennett, Lord Nelson was the top handicap horse at Hastings from 2001 through 2004. He was trained by Dino Condilenios throughout his career and he's been sent home to the Bennetts' farm in West Bank, British Columbia.

An 11-year-old gelding, Lord Nelson was a late developer. He never raced as a 2-year-old and he didn't make his first start until July 21 of his 3-year-old year. Lord Nelson showed signs of brilliance in his debut when he easily won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race by two lengths.

"I knew he could run when he went 1:16 and change in his first start," Condilenios said. "He has been a very special horse."

Lord Nelson won his second start and then went unplaced in the Richmond Derby Trial and the B.C. Derby.

"He really wasn't ready to take on the best horses yet," Condilenios said. "But I knew the potential was there."

Lord Nelson's first stakes win came in the Hong Kong Jockey Club exactly a year after his successful debut. From then on, he was the horse to beat in every race he ran at Hastings until fall 2005.

Starting with his win in the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 2001 and ending on June 4, 2005, Lord Nelson won 13 races from 21 starts at Hastings. He finished second seven times, and his worst race here during that period was a third-place finish in the 2004 Hong Kong Jockey Club. All 21 races were in stakes races and in four of his losses he was beaten by a neck or less.

In this day and age of horses retiring at an early age either due to an injury or because of their breeding value, it has been a rare treat to watch a horse like Lord Nelson run his eyeballs out again and again over an extended period of time.

"I'm sure I'll never have another horse like him," Condilenios said. "Whatever the situation, you could count on him to give you his best effort. Who knows how many more races he would have won if he didn't have to deal with quarter cracks his whole career."

Condilenios had a hard time choosing his favorite races by Lord Nelson. "There were so many memorable moments that it's hard to separate them," he said. "His win going a mile and an eighth in the Lieutenant Governors after being off for over two months was certainly special."

A neck loss by Lord Nelson to Notis Otis in the 2006 B.C. Cup Sprint was one of the most dramatic moments ever seen at Hastings. As a 9-year-old, Lord Nelson was clearly past his prime. Notis Otis was returning to the races after nearly dying the year before. They hooked up at the head of the lane and ran head and head the length of the stretch.

"I have never heard a louder noise from a crowd here then when they turned for home in the sprint," Condilenios said. "Sure he lost, but considering his age, it was an amazing performance. It really showed how much heart he had, and the crowd really appreciated it."

Among Lord Nelson's accomplishments were back-to-back wins in the Grade 3 Lieutenant Governors in 2002 and 2003, and two wins in the B.C. Cup Classic. Ridden by Frank Fuentes for most of his career, Lord Nelson retired with career totals of 41 starts, 16 wins, 11 seconds, and 4 thirds for $673,099.

"What amazed me most about him was that it didn't matter what type of horses he was running against," Condilenios said. "If there were a couple of horses with speed, he could drop back and make one run. If there was just one speed horse in the race, he could go after him right away, set fast fractions, and keep on running."

It is appropriate that there will be a special ceremony honoring Lord Nelson on B.C. Cup Day, Aug. 4. After all, Lord Nelson has to be ranked as one of the greatest horses ever bred in British Columbia.

Outrider receives praise

Hastings outrider Cindy Barroby is the "odds-on favorite to win the GEM Award" for the employee of the month, Hastings general manager Raj Mutti said.

Barroby averted disaster when she herded Foxy Like a Cat to the outside fence when the horse took off going the wrong way just after dropping her rider leaving the starting gate in the sixth race Monday. Barroby and Foxy Like a Cat ended up going around the outside of the track.

"Not only did she save the race, she also prevented a potential disaster," Mutti said. "It was a heroic effort."

Barroby gave most of the credit to her pony, Jesse.

"I was just reacting to the situation," she said. "Jesse is 18 years old and I wasn't sure if he still had it in him. I think we went around there faster than the race was run in. I was very proud of the old man."

Instead of pulling the loose horse up, Barroby elected to keep her herded to the outside fence.

"I had a chance to get her, but I was concerned that if she ducked away from me she would end going head-on into the horses running the other way," she said. "You're always thinking about what you would do in certain situations, so when it happens you just react. Other tracks have chutes you can chase them into, but I really didn't have any other options. Thankfully, it all worked out."

Both Barroby and Jesse received a well deserved round of applause from the appreciative fans following their impressive performances.