05/10/2007 11:00PM

Restless Lady outshines her barn's star

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Until now, Chelsey's Image has been the leading 3-year-old filly in the Ned Sams's barn. Chelsey's Image won a couple of stakes as a 2-year-old and in her first start this year she finished third in the CTHS Sales Stakes. She's earned $141,794.

But now, she might have to take second fiddle to Restless Lady. Restless Lady hasn't tried stakes horses yet, but she has won three races in a row and she was very impressive beating You'rejustlike me in a $50,000 optional claiming race April 28. Restless Lady and Chelsey's Image are expected to start in the Emerald Downs Stakes at Hastings next Sunday.

Both horses worked five furlongs last Wednesday, and Restless Lady was clearly the more impressive of the two. She looked very comfortable while posting a bullet move in 59.80 seconds. Chelsey's Image went five furlongs in 1:02.

Mario Gutierrez worked both horses and he also rode them the last time they ran. He has chosen to ride Restless Lady in the Emerald Downs. Sams wasn't sure he made the right choice.

"Restless Lady worked great the other day and she's certainly trained forwardly," said Sams. "She has lots of potential but she hasn't beaten these kind of horses yet.

"Chelsey's Image is a proven stakes horse. She came out a bit flat in her first start this year but we're looking for a little better outing in the next one. They're both pretty nice fillies, and there's lots of upside for both of them."

Sams has another 3-year-old filly in his barn that he's high on - Rockahula Miss, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Alabama Rain who has had only one work this year.

"She has a beautiful way of traveling and I'm looking forward to seeing how she progresses," Sams said. "We had her ready to run last year, but she injured herself. We gave her a little extra time this spring, so she started a little behind everybody else."

The star of the Sams barn, Spaghetti Mouse, came out of his third-place finish on May 5 in the George Royal in good shape.

"That was a good race for him," said Sams. "He got a lot out of that, he galloped out strong, and he's bouncing around in his stall."

According to Sams, Spaghetti Mouse will make his next start May 27 in the John Longden. Unless another horse ships in, Spaghetti Mouse will likely be a strong favorite in the Longden.

Sams, who was the longtime assistant trainer to the late Gary Demorest, appears comfortable in his new role as the trainer of a prominent stable. He took over the barn when Demorest died from complications stemming from kidney failure on April 28. There will be a memorial service for Demorest this Thursday at Hastings in the George Royal Room at 12:30 p.m.

Only four eye Emerald Downs Stakes

The Emerald Downs is going to have a short field, with only four confirmed runners as of Friday afternoon - Chelsey's Image and Restless Lady, plus Napa and Suva, who figures to be a strong favorite.

Trainer Dino Condilenios will definitely enter Napa and possibly enter Sophisticated Star, whom he claimed out of a winning race for $15,000 on April 29. Napa finished a fast-closing second in the CTHS Sales Stakes. Both horses are owned by Swift Thoroughbreds.

"Actually, I wasn't going to run Napa until I saw the nominations and realized there were only going to be four or five in there," said Condilenios. "I don't know if she's really a stakes filly, but just the way things are coming together you have to take a shot. If there was a large field we would have gone in a different direction."

He wasn't sure about whether he would enter Sophisticated Star. She has won both of her starts, leading from start to finish both times.

"We might use her as a rabbit, but we really haven't decided if we want to do that or not," he said.

Lord Nelson, 10, gearing up again

Condilenios has Lord Nelson back in training and was pleased with the way the 10-year-old gelding worked four furlongs in 47.80 seconds on Wednesday. Lord Nelson is owned and was bred by Russell and Lois Bennett.

"He would probably be retired by now but the Bennetts said he wasn't very happy at the farm," said Condilenios. "He's doing very well at the track, though. We'll just take it one work at a time. He'll probably only start him once or twice."

Lord Nelson, who has earned $663,941, has been one of the top handicap horses at Hastings since 2001. In his last start, in the B.C. Cup Sprint last August, he lost by a nose to Notis Otis.

"He's doing very well, so it's possible he'll run in the Sprint again if that's the only thing that's left," said Condilenios. "We're looking for an easier spot for now, though."

Condilenios is off to a bit of a frustrating start at the meet. It's not that his horses aren't running well. He's started 12 horses at the meet and he's had 6 seconds and 3 thirds.

"It would have been nice if a couple of the photos had gone the other way," he said. "But, it's still a lot better than starting 12 horses and have nine of them run out of the money. That's happened to me before."