10/03/2003 12:00AM

Lord Nelson sets sights on the one that got away


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Lord Nelson has been the dominant older horse at Hastings for the past three years but one of the major races at Hastings has eluded him so far. His trainer, Dino Condilenios, is hoping to rectify that situation when Lord Nelson runs in the Grade 3, $100,000, Premier's next Sunday.

Lord Nelson finished second to British Columbia Derby winner Fancy As in 2001 and he was over the top by the time the Premier's came up last year and didn't run. He'll likely be the favorite in this year's renewal, but he's no cinch. He hasn't started since finishing third in the Longacres Mile Aug. 24 and he missed a couple of weeks of training when he developed some filling in one of his front legs.

"I'm not sure what caused it," said Condilenios. "It was probably some kind of an infection, but it's better now and he seems fine."

Lord Nelson was nominated to the Sir Winston Churchill on Sept. 20, a race he would have been odds-on to win, but Condilenios decided to skip the race in order to have a fresh horse for the Premier's.

"He's easy to train up to a race and he ran his eyeballs out in the Mile," said Condilenios. "If I'd have known he was going to have a setback, I probably would have run him in the Churchill, but there's not much I can do about it now."

Condilenios said that he also was going to enter Let's Go Rusty. A former claimer, Let's Go Rusty became a stakes winner for the first time with a win in the John Longden 6000 earlier in the year and he's coming off a third-place finish going 1 3/8 miles in the $100,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands Park Sept. 3.

Roscoe Pito a Premier's maybe

One of the horses Lord Nelson might face in the Premier's is this year's B.C. Derby winner, Roscoe Pito. There's a big difference between Roscoe Pito and 2001 Premier's winner Fancy As, though. Fancy As was clearly a horse for the 11-furlong distance of the Premier's while John Snow, the trainer of Roscoe Pito, isn't overly excited about trying to stretch Roscoe Pito out that far.

"I'm not sure that it's the best distance for him," Snow said. "We've also nominated him to the Ontario Derby, so we're keeping our options open."

The Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Derby on Oct. 13 will be run at 1 1/8 miles, a distance that is obviously within his range. It's also a free trip if he goes.

Being the parent company of Hastings, the Woodbine Entertainment Group is trying to create more interaction between the two tracks. Woodbine offered to fly three horses from Ontario for the B.C. Derby or Oaks, but only Pants N Kisses made the flight. Now Woodbine executives are hoping to get the B.C. Derby winner back to Woodbine.

"It's an attractive offer," said Snow. "But I'm just not sure. I'd rather stay home and more than likely he'll run in the Premier's if we still own him."

Snow is in negotiations with a potential buyer for Roscoe Pito.

McAleney in to ride Royal Place

Royal Place, who finished a troubled fifth in the B.C. Derby, will also start in the Premier's. His troubles began early when he spotted the field a few lengths at the start.

"Plus, they were walking up front," said his owner, K.K. Sangara. "Cheap claimers usually go faster than they were going in the derby. I would like to take another crack at them."

Sangara brought in Jim McAleney to ride Royal Place in the derby, but Nicky Wright will have the call in the Premier's.

"He should get in light, and with Nicky up you don't have to worry about being overweight," said Sangara.

Raylene likely for Ballerina

According to trainer Rodney Haynes, British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks winner Raylene will likely start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup next Saturday.

"If everything stays the same I'll probably ship her out next Wednesday," he said.

The Ballerina is shaping up to be a great race. Also expected to run are Elana d'Amour, Shelby Madison, and Dancewithavixen.

Elana d'Amour is the reigning horse of the year in British Columbia. Shelby Madison is the top older mare in the province. And Dancewithavixen will be looking to reverse the neck decision she lost to Raylene in the Oaks.

Also the first three finishers in last year's Ballerina, Grace for You, Full Scream Ahead, and Castle Mountain have all been nominated and are expected to start.