04/23/2009 11:00PM

Questions surround Pop Artist


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Pop Artist presents handicappers with a serious challenge in the seventh race at Hastings on Sunday. The first-level optional race for 3-year-olds has a $50,000 claiming option and drew eight horses, including Ascot Graduation winner Tommy Danzigger. Northlands Park stakes winner Quiet Approach adds depth to the field.

Pop Artist, who is trained by Dino Condilenios, looks like a standout on paper, but there are several reasons why he might not be favored in the six-furlong feature.

Pop Artist started his career with an easy six-length win in a $100,000 maiden race at Belmont in October. He followed that strong performance with two solid races over the inner track at Aqueduct. In his first start with winners he finished third in a $75,000 optional race on Dec. 4. The winner, Taqarub, came back to win the $75,000 Jimmy Winkfield. Taqarub had a rough trip in Quality Road's Fountain of Youth, but came back to finish third in the Grade 3 Bay Shore.

Pop Artist finished fourth in the $69,000 Fred Capossela in his most recent start on Feb. 15. The Capossela has produced two next-out winners.

One of the issues regarding Pop Artist, who was a recent purchase by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc., is that he has needed time off between races. To complicate matters further, he has had average works since arriving at Hastings. He is also eligible for the conditions of the race, but is the only horse in the field racing for the $50,000 claiming price.

Condilenios had a hard time landing one of the leading riders for the race. Ismael Mosqueira, who finished 12th in the standings last year, has the mount.

Tommy Danzigger probably wants more distance, but by virtue of his win in the 1 1/16-mile Ascot Graduation, he ranks as the class of the field. Trained by Rob Gilker, Tommy Danzigger came from off the pace to win the Ascot, and there should be an honest pace for him to work with Sunday.

Dave Wilson rides Tommy Danzigger.

Trainer Steve Henson has entered Gotta Find Bubba and Millwright. Gotta Find Bubba finished a clear second ahead of third-place Millwright in both the Ascot Graduation and the Jack Diamond Futurity.

Wildwood Swing, A Cut Above, and Senor Rojo all have good speed and have been training forwardly this spring.