05/06/2009 11:00PM

Robo Willie leads band of invaders


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Invaders help spice up the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes at Hastings on Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong feature for 3-year-olds attracted seven horses and goes as the ninth race.

Heading the list of horses making their first start at Hastings is triple stakes winner Robo Willie. Trained by Greg Tracy, Robo Willie won the Edmonton Juvenile and Birdcatcher at Northlands Park. After the horse ran third in the Canadian Juvenile, Tracy shipped Robo Willie to New Mexico, where he won the $50,000 A C Kemp Stakes at Albuquerque on Sept. 28. Robo Willie is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Zany Tactics at Turf Paradise on March 16. According to Tracy, he needed the race.

"He was probably a work or two away from the race," said Tracy. "But it's hard to find a race for a horse that won three stakes races as a 2-year-old. He's had three works over this track, so he should be ready now."

Robo Willie has good speed and should be sitting just off of Snake Attack during the early stages of the race.

Pedro Alvarado rides Robo Willie.

El Cugat is shortening up after an easy win as the odds-on favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Oregon Derby at Portland Meadows on March 16. The Oregon Derby was his first start since being claimed for out of a winning race for $25,000 by his current connections, trainer Troy Taylor and owners Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella. Trainer Pat Jarvis saddled him in the Oregon Derby. El Cugat is versatile and could be dangerous if a speed duel develops.

Mario Gutierrez rides El Cugat.

Almost Time could be the favorite in the race. He closed off his juvenile campaign with a smart win in the $106,000 Jack Diamond Futurity on Oct. 5 and he has looked sharp in his works this spring.

His trainer, Dino Condilenios, is a little concerned that Almost Time did a little too much in his 6 1/2-furlong move in 1:19.60 out of the gate last Saturday. Frank Fuentes, who will ride Almost Time in the Coleman, was aboard for the strong work.

"I really didn't want him to go that fast," said Condilenios. "Frank said he was well in hand, so hopefully it didn't take too much out of him."

Mt. Davidson is shipping in from Santa Anita where he won a $50,000 claiming race Feb. 14. He is coming off of a fifth-place finish in a six-furlong race for the same price on April 16.