09/04/2010 11:00AM

Soul Custody gives Hastings oval another shot

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Dearest Princess and Otero will have home-field advantage over Emerald Downs-based Soul Custody in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings Monday. The 1 1/16-mile race drew nine horses and will serve as the final prep for the $75,000 B.C. Oaks Sept. 25.

Soul Custody edged Dearest Princess for third in the $75,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald on Aug. 15, but she will be going around three turns for the first time. The only time she ran at Hastings she had a terrible experience, veering in soon after the start, hitting the rail hard, and losing her rider, Jake Barton, in a $50,000 optional race last year. Trained by Tim McCanna, Soul Custody is still seeking her second win, and she went into the Washington Oaks as a 23-1 longshot. Her lone win came in a $12,500 maiden race at Emerald prior to her unfortunate experience at Hastings.

Pedro Alvarado will be aboard Soul Custody for the first time.

Dearest Princess had a wide trip after breaking a half-step slowly from post 11 in the Oaks. According to her trainer, Mel Snow, she came out of the race in good shape and should be ready for big effort Monday. She won the last two stakes for 3-year-old fillies prior to shipping to Emerald.

“Once she got away slowly she was up against it from her outside post,” said Snow. “She’s happy to be home and has trained well leading up to the race.”

Otero has never been worse than second running with her own age group at Hastings, and prior to finishing fifth in the Washington Oaks, she ran a very good race to place third against older fillies and mares in the Strawberry Morn. Trained by Dave Forster, Otero is versatile and could be dangerous from a stalking position.

Finality Philly will be looking for her fifth win in a row and was good enough to beat Sadie Diamond winner Vying Ty Grr in a $50,000 optional sprint in her last start.

Condilenios has tough pair

Also on the card is the $25,000 PNE President’s Speed, and trainer Dino Condilenios will saddle the favorite in the six-furlong dash, which drew seven horses. The question is: will it be Almost Time or Burj Dubai?

Both are returning to Hastings after running in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile Aug. 22. Almost Time closed with good speed to finish fourth while Burj Dubai was up close early and faded badly to finish 11th.

“Burj Dubai flipped his palate,” said Condilenios. “We’re going to change his bit to help prevent it from happening again.”

Burj Dubai was sensational in his first two races, both sprints, before losing by a neck to Ganbei when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in the S. W. Randall Plate July 18.

Almost Time came from well back to win the B.C. Cup Sprint Aug. 2 and once again should have an honest pace to work with.

New horsemen’s group

A new group has been formed to represent the owners and breeders in British Columbia called the B.C. Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. The new group is headed by prominent owner and breeder Ole Nielsen.

The group’s constitution calls for a minimum of eight board members with a maximum of 15. It is asking owners at Hastings to sign over their share of the 2 percent that goes from the purse account to the horsemen’s representative – currently the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association – to help fund the group.

According to Nielsen the group has had a strong response from local owners. The group’s immediate goal is to improve purses at Hastings.

“Instead of fractured parties lobbying the government, we want to act as one voice for the industry,” said Nielsen. “We have the breeders on board with us.”

Debbie Peebles, president of the local HBPA, said, “The HBPA continues to work on behalf of our members and will continue to do so in the future.”