07/22/2001 11:00PM

Maiden was ready for stakes


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Steve Henson said he was excited about running first-time starter Lasting Code in the $35,668 Timber Music Stakes last weekend at Hastings Park. Now we know why.

Sent off as the 8-5 second choice, Lasting Code made an impressive debut, winning the 6 1/2-furlong Timber Music by 1 1/4 lengths over favored Beautiful Stranger. Final time for the distance was 1:19.89.

Chris Loseth had Lasting Code within striking distance the whole way and after taking the lead on the middle of the stretch turn he had to ride her pretty hard down the lane to maintain her lead over Beautiful Stranger. "She's only had five works and she came up a little empty in the stretch," said Loseth. "But she has a lot of talent and she should be a lot fitter next time."

Lasting Code is owned by Ole Nielsen (Canmor Farms) and Lola McCarthy and was broken at Nielsen's Canmor Farms by her trainer, Steve Henson. Jeffrey Sengara, who owns Beautiful Stranger, also sends his horses to Canmor for their early schooling and that was one of the reasons Henson opted to debut Lasting Code in a stakes race. "Beautiful Stranger is a nice filly but Lasting Code was always ahead of her," said Henson.

After seeing Beautiful Stranger in the paddock before the race Henson had a brief moment of doubt. "Beautiful Stranger looked a heck of a lot better than the last time I saw her at the farm and I thought we could be in trouble."

"She's one of the most professional 2-year-olds we've ever been around" said Nielsen. "Lasting Chance had her moments and she didn't fully develop until the middle of her 3-year-old year. Lasting Code is the most laid-back horse in the barn until she gets on the racetrack."

Nielsen bought Lasting Code out of the Washington Summer Sale for $24,000 last August.

Lasting Code isn't the only promising filly in Nielsen's stable and he's looking forward to starting a Williamstown filly called Metrotown. "She's a bit of an accident waiting to happen," he said. "She's always having little things bother her, but I think she'll get there this year and if she does, well, she can run, too."

Gabriola, who was also making her first start in the Timber Music, rallied late to finish a close third, but she might not have been the best 2-year-old filly that her trainer, Dave Forster, started on the day. Limited Print looked good winning a maiden race in her debut and will be pointed to the Lassie Stakes on Aug. 18, where she will likely face Lasting Code.

Neither filly is likely to be favored, however. Forster has another filly in his barn, Strikes No Spares, who won a maiden race by 6 3/4 lengths at Emerald and then finished second in the Angie C. Stakes. Forster said there aren't any races for her at Emerald until September.

"The filly that beat her in the Angie C. [Strong Credentials] is a $375,000 buy back by Carson City," said Forster. "We paid $80,000 for Strikes No Spares and that's actually the most I've ever spent on a yearling." Forster bought her for Ivor and Jack Jones, who live in Washington state.

Thurston has blossomed

Although Thurston couldn't beat $15,000 maidens June 13, he has won his last two starts. His impressive win in a 1 1/16-mile $50,000 optional race in 1:44.60 on Sunday has leading trainer Harold Barroby weighing his options.

"We'll likely run in the Stallion Stakes on B.C. Cup Day and then possibly the Canadian Derby," said Barroby.

Barroby noted that Thurston is the best-looking horse he has ever trained but it's been hard to get him interested in running until lately. "I had Davie [Wilson] work him this spring and he worked terrible. He couldn't even keep up to one of my cheap maidens. He's turned it around now though."