05/25/2006 11:00PM

Potrero Station tries going long in Province

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Janet Armstrong and owner Syd Belzberg, who races as the Budget Stable, have teamed to win the last two stakes for 3-year-olds at the meet. Last weekend, Sophie's Trophy won the Langley Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and on May 6 Potrero Station won the 6 1/2-furlong Klondike Stakes.

Potrero Station will try to extend Armstrong and Belzberg's streak when he runs in the Jim Coleman Province at 1 1/16 miles next Sunday. The Province will be the first middle-distance race for most of the probable starters, but Armstrong said she is confident Potrero Station will handle the additional distance.

"He's training stronger than ever," she said. "He's really feeling good right now, and I think he'll rate. He finished full of run when he won the Klondike, so I don't think the extra distance will be a problem. You never know until they actually try it, though."

Potrero Station is certainly bred to handle a distance. He's by Florida Derby winner Cape Town, and his dam won 10 races, including five routes.

Armstrong said she is also planning to run Outrageous Limit, who was claimed by Belzberg for $75,000 out of a one-mile maiden race he won at Santa Anita on April 21. Outrageous Limit recently arrived at Hastings, and Armstrong gave him an easy half-mile breeze in 53 seconds May 20.

"I just wanted to give him a feel for the track," she said. "He'll have a more serious work this weekend. Actually, I plan to work both of them a good five furlongs this Sunday."

Armstrong and Belzberg have a slight difference of opinion when it comes to who they think is the better horse.

"I'm a bit prejudiced, because I already won a race with Potrero Station," said Armstrong. "Syd thinks Outrageous Limit is better, and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that he's already won going a distance. They're both pretty nice horses, though."

Nineteen horses have been nominated to the Jim Coleman Province, and there could be a full field. In previous years that would have meant 11 starters, but this year 12 horses will be allowed to run in any race going 1 1/16 miles.

Province missing two of the best

A couple of the top juveniles at Hastings last year, Regal Request and Bound to Be M V P, won't be ready for the Jim Coleman Province.

Regal Request, who was the champion 2-year-old in the province in 2005, had a chip removed from one of his ankles over the winter and is slowly getting in shape for his first start. He worked his first half-mile on Monday, and according to his trainer, Allan Jack, he's "doing well and should be ready to run in another month or so."

Bound to Be M V P won all three of his starts at Hastings, including the Ladnesian Stakes, and then shipped to Santa Anita, where he ran third to Too Much Bling in the San Miguel Stakes. Bound to Be M V P was turned out after going unplaced in the Grade 2 San Vicente in February, but has been in light training at his owner's farm in Washington. He is trained by Brian Giesbrecht, who reported that Bound to Be M V P will resume serious training at Hastings on Sunday.

"I'm not sure when he'll be ready to start," said Giesbrecht. "I'll know more about that when I see him."

Celt victim of racing office mistake

An unfortunate set of events caused Celt to be scratched out of both of the races he was entered in last weekend. Also, because of the circumstances resulting in the scratches, racing secretary Lorne Mitchell was fined $500 by the Hastings stewards.

When trainer Dino Condilenios entered Celt in an allowance race for Monday, the horse was scratched out of a race for which he was entered Friday. Mitchell, who took the entry from Condilenios, assumed that Celt was eligible for the allowance race, which was for horses who had not won a race in 2006. Celt, who had won for a claiming tag in his previous start, would have been eligible in most cases, but because of a racing office oversight, the usual clause "claiming races not considered" was left off when the conditions of the race were published.

Mel Snow, who is the president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of British Columbia and also had a horse in the race (Metatron), protested that Celt was ineligible to run. The stewards agreed and ordered Celt to be scratched out of Monday's race. They also fined Mitchell for failing to inform horsemen of the change in conditions.

Condilenios was upset that, through no fault of his or owner Swift Thoroughbreds, Celt didn't get to run. They were somewhat appeased, however, when management at Hastings paid the winning share of the purse to them.

"It's really a shame what happened," said Condilenios. "I'm not going to blame anyone. Lorne was just trying to put together the best card he could for Monday, and he made an honest mistake."