11/07/2003 12:00AM

Louie Downtown should run a lot better


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Owner-trainer Tom Longstaff hasn't had much to be disappointed about this year. He won seven stakes with Dancewithavixen and when the Hastings meet ends, he will be the leading owner in money won.

Currently, Longstaff sits on top of the list with $441,212 in the bank, and he is hoping to add to that total when he sends out Louie Downtown in an allowance race for 2-year-olds Sunday.

Longstaff thought he had Louie Downtown fit and ready for the $120,000 Ascot Graduation on Oct. 19, but was disappointed when he tired in the stretch to finish sixth.

"At the top of the stretch I thought that he was going to win the race," Longstaff said. "I was totally surprised when he backed up down the lane. It might have been the sloppy track, but he seemed to be handling it okay up till then."

Longstaff thinks Louie Downtown will run a better race Sunday.

"He's training fine, and he beat Nihilator the time before. This race shapes up pretty much the same way, and I imagine we'll be sitting just off of Nihilator," Longstaff said.

Longstaff is planning on taking Louie Downtown, Dancewithavixen, and Rainbows Forever to northern California to run this winter. But he might run Dancewithavixen one more time here on closing day, Nov. 30, before sending her south.

"I've nominated her to the Au Revoir," said Longstaff, referring to a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up. "It depends on the type of weight they give her. If it's reasonable I'll probably run her. Otherwise I'll give her some more time off before she runs down there."

Longstaff has also nominated Dancewithavictor to the Au Revoir, and if they both run it would be a rare coupling. Dancewithavixen is a full-sister to Dancewithavictor.

Dancewithavixen is far more accomplished than her brother, but Dancewithavictor looked like he was going to something special before he was injured in his stall as a 2-year-old in 1999. He had won his first three starts and totally dominated his rivals in both the Ladnesian and B.C. Cup Nursery.

"He was trained by Terry Jordan back then," said Longstaff. "He thought he was a pretty nice horse, and his rider, Chris Loseth, told me he would have easily been the best 3-year-old at Hastings if he had made it back to the races."

After missing all of 2000, Dancewithavictor ran only four times, three races in 2001 and one in 2002, before coming back to race full time in Southern California this year. Longstaff claimed him for $12,500 out of a winning race at Hollywood Park on July 7 and has him ready to run now.

"I entered him in a $15,000 optional race for Sunday, but it didn't fill," he said. "Hopefully it will go next weekend and I can use it as a prep for the Au Revoir."

Slots still a long way off

Management hoped to have slot machines up and running at Hastings by next spring, but the bureaucracy at Vancouver City Hall moves slowly, and it now appears slots won't be introduced until 2005. Slots still have to be approved by the city council, and with opposition growing from community groups, there is still a long way to go before that happens.

The next council meeting that will deal with the slots issue has been moved to Dec. 2 and if council agrees to move forward, there will be public hearings near the end of January.

Even if slots are approved, Hastings won't be able to make the necessary changes to the building in order to accommodate the slots until another report concerning the whole Pacific National Exhibition site is concluded. That is supposed to be finished sometime next summer.

"We were advised that the planning department won't issue any building permits until that study is concluded," said Phil Heard, president of Hastings, who was scheduled to meet with city officials Friday.

"I want to see if they would let us put in about 300 [slots] temporarily," Heard said. "We wouldn't have to make any major structural changes so hopefully they'll let us move ahead. We really need to get purse money flowing into the hands of our horsemen."