05/11/2006 12:00AM

Talented but fragile Regal Red returns


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The sensational Regal Red makes her 2006 debut in the Vancouver Sun Stakes on Saturday at Hastings. Due to a saucer fracture, Regal Red started just twice in 2005, and her trainer, Robbie Anderson, is hoping for a more productive season this year from the 5-year-old mare.

In most of her races Regal Red has dominated her opponents. As a 2-year-old, Regal Red won a maiden special weight race by more than 10 lengths, and at 3 she won all five of her starts with an average winning margin of almost six lengths. Both years she didn't get to run in the major races in the fall, however. At 2, she bucked her shins and in her 3-year-old year she was turned out following her lopsided win in the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes on Aug. 2 with a bruised foot.

In 2005, Regal Red came back to win the Strawberry Morn in her first start and she appeared to come out of the race in good shape. Anderson entered her back in last year's Vancouver Sun but the saucer

fracture appeared and he was forced to scratch her from the race.

After a few months of rehab Regal Red made it back to the races last August and she finished a close second to Pretty Meadow in the Cover Girl. Following the race, the saucer fracture reappeared in the same spot and she went home for the year.

"In hindsight we probably should have given her more time off," said Anderson. "We X-rayed her a number of times, and everything was clear before she ran in her last race in the fall. Plus she was training very well. Maybe with more time the injury wouldn't have come back."

Regal Red has won 7 of her 9 races, and in both of her losses she finished second by a half-length. Obviously, when she's right, she's a very tough horse to beat. She has been off for more than eight months now and Anderson is confident she's completely healed.

"She's worked very well and there certainly aren't any signs that anything is bothering her," he said. "With all the time she's had it should be fine."

Anderson also entered Slewpast in the Sun and he's planning on running both horses. He nominated Regal Red and Slewpast to Sunday's Hastings Park Handicap at Emerald Downs and was considering running one of them there. When the weights came out he changed his mind.

"They were given co-highweight in Seattle at 120 pounds, and here, Red was given 118 and Slewpast 116," he said. "It made it an easy decision to keep them here."

Anderson didn't rule out the possibility that Regal Red could still end up at going to Seattle.

"I'll probably enter her in both places, and if it comes up wet here, I'll probably run her at Emerald," he said. "She just doesn't handle the mud very well."

Potrero Station will stretch out

With good cause, jockey Mark Walker was proud of his winning ride aboard Potrero Station in the Klondike Stakes last Saturday. The Klondike was the first stakes race for 3-year-old colts and geldings at the meet. Walker, who is making a comeback after being out of the saddle since 2000, has ridden more than 12,000 races in his career.

"I would place that one inside the top 100," he said. "I had one chance to get through a small opening just past the quarter pole and I took it. The moment was there and if I didn't take advantage of the moment, I'm not going to hit the board. It also helped that I had a lot of horse to go through the hole."

Potrero Station paid $23.30 for his first stakes win. He was claimed for $32,000 at Golden Gate on April 6 and his owner, Sydney Belzberg, who races under the Budget Stable, picked up $30,000 for the win.

Potrero Station is trained by Janet Armstrong, who said she will be working on trying to get him to stretch out in the 1 1/16-mile Jim Coleman Province on June 4.

Walker is confident Potrero Station will get the distance.

"He's like a push-button horse," he said. "He was rating nicely going down the backstretch, and when I gave him a little nudge, he took off. I had to take a big hold or it could have been ugly. I also had a lot of horse left at the finish."

* Closing arguments were heard last Friday in the lawsuit filed by the Hastings Conservancy against the City of Vancouver for allowing slot machines at Hastings. The judge reserved her decision and is expected to give her judgment by the end of the month.