09/04/2008 11:00PM

Slots provide optimism for sale

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Until recently, British Columbia had been immune to the economic downturn in North America the past couple of years. With commodity prices going in the tank, however, and the Vancouver real estate market starting to head south, it appears the local economy could be headed for hard times. Also, horse sales across North America have mostly been soft, and the recent sale in Washington was a disaster with more than 43 percent of the horses being bought back.

Despite all of the bad news, there is some hope that the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's sale on Tuesday will be successful. With the addition of 600 slot machines at Hastings, purses, which have been raised by a total of 20 percent this year, are expected to increase again next year.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the parent company of Hastings, won't comment on what the slot revenue has been since the slot floor opened Aug. 15. Nonetheless, there has been a big boost in the amount of people attending Hastings since it opened, especially on weekends. Part of the reason for the increased attendance was the hordes of people visiting the annual fair held on the PNE site where Hastings is located.

"We're certainly excited about the new facility," said Howard Blank, vice president of media and entertainment for Great Canadian. "With the PNE over, we're planning a major marketing campaign and we hope it will act as a catalyst to the 2009 and 2010 racing seasons."

Strong offerings from Bronco J Farm

A couple of foals offered by Bronco J Farm should attract some attention. Hip No. 8 is a yearling gelding by B.C. Derby winner Wandering out of Always a Star. That makes him a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Grace for You, and to Ronaldino, a sprint stakes winner with more than $127,000 in earnings. Always a Star also has produced stakes-placed Always Annie's as well as multiple winners Star Stalker and Pendolino.

Hip No. 67 also is by Wandering and he is the second foal out of Grace for You. Her first foal is a 2-year-old.

Hip Nos. 11, 55, and 175 are by In Excess, who is an excellent win-early sire. Hip No. 11 is a full brother to Mr. Gobetween, who was the $120,000 sales topper at the 2006 sale.

Vying Victor well represented at sale

Vying Victor has been the top sire in B.C. for a decade and he is well represented with eight foals in the sale.

The first son of Vying Victor up for sale is Hip No. 37. A yearling colt named Dee's Victor, he is the first foal out of Dee's Love, a sprint stakes winner with more than $100,000 in earnings.

Hip No. 100 is a yearling filly by Vying Victor out of stakes placed Lightning Stitch. Lightning Stitch has produced stakes winners Light My Ducks and Northwest Attitude.

Dancewithavixen colt in catalog

The second foal out of local champion Dancewithavixen is Hip No. 35. He is a yearling colt by Deputy Commander, who won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and earned $1.9 million. Dancewithavixen won 12 races, including the Grade 3 Ballerina, for earnings of $496,039. Her first foal, Dancefourseven, is a 2-year-old filly by Victory Gallop. She hasn't won, but she hasn't been worse than third in five starts and she's been stakes-placed twice for earnings of $24,205.

Condilenios seeking better luck

Trainer Dino Condilenios is hoping his recent string of bad luck will end this weekend.

"I can't remember having so many horses run second," Condilenios said. "We were winning races at about 26 percent just over a month ago, but with all the second-place finishes, we're down to 15. I can't remember the last time an inquiry went my way as well."

One of the horses Condilenios has entered Sunday, Almost Time, looks like a mortal cinch in the seventh race. A 2-year-old gelding by Finality, Almost Time also looked like a sure winner going into his latest race and he was sent off as the 2-5 favorite. He broke poorly, however, and ended up losing by a neck.

"He has had trouble leaving the gate, and when I sent him back for more schooling the other day he hit the gate when he broke out of there," Condilenios said. "If he breaks with the field, he should be tough to beat, but I don't think I can guarantee that he will."

Almost Time started out the year in the Robbie Anderson barn. He was bought privately by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. after he finished second to El Sinaloense in his first two starts, both stakes races.

With any kind of trip, he won't be a maiden after the seventh race Sunday.