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Maxwell smart enough to handle veterans?

June 18, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Patrick Kerrison
Emerald Downs, June 16--According to trainer Dino Condilenos, his 4-year-old shipper into this Sunday’s Budweiser Emerald Handicap faces one obstacle – he’s green.

“He’s not a very seasoned horse,” Condilenos said. “I’d even say he’s kind of green and still learning. In his last race he was in-between horses and got a little intimidated by them. He has loads of talent; he’s just not as seasoned as some of the horses in here.”

Maxwell has posted four wins in seven lifetime starts, all north of the border. Condilenos believes the mile distance isn’t cause for concern and a shorter field on a larger track could benefit the son of Silver Ghost.

“Of course, with a shorter field and a bigger track than he’s used to it should help a bit,” he continued. “We’ve never stretched him out before, but I feel he’ll have no trouble going the distance. It looks like a nice spot for him."

Maxwell will ship in on Saturday and will be accommodated at the barn of Rick Terry. Condilenos has a number of horses running at Hastings on Saturday and will make the drive down that evening. On Sunday he expects to school Maxwell in the paddock and may walk him around the track with a pony to get him familiar with the racecourse.

“He’s been training well. We wouldn’t make the trip if I didn’t think he was up to it. I figure he’ll stalk the pace. That other horse from up here [R. Associate] has some speed and if he goes with Sabertooth then we can get up there pretty close and sit right off it [the pace]. He’s a real push-button horse. He has speed when you want it, he’ll just gun it if you ask him.”

Condilenos also trains Lord Nelson, the 8-year-old gelding who has 12 black-type stakes wins to his credit. Another star in the Condilenos barn is Five Point Star. A 5-year-old bred in British Columbia, Five Point Star most recently captured the Herald Gold Plate Handicap in Calgary giving him his eighth win in 16 starts.

“I have three horses in that category [aiming toward the Longacres Mile] but if any of them go I think it would be Five Point Star,” Condilenos said. “Lord Nelson is getting a bit older and I just as soon keep him home and we’ll see how Maxwell does Sunday.”

Flamethrowintexan, who rolled in his ’05 debut Saturday afternoon, came back to the barn in good order according to Penney’s assistant trainer Kay Cooper.

“He’s doing well. He ate well and got plenty of rest,” Cooper said. “We’re thrilled with the way he ran Saturday. We send them out there fit and ready to go and he performed the way we hoped he would.”

Sabertooth, the world record holder for 6½ furlongs (1:13) and 2002 Longacres Mile champ, continues to travel without complications along the road to the Longacres Mile.

“He nearly pulled my guts out when I worked him yesterday,” Bryson Cooper said. “He was really into the bit and training so well and he’s so fit we’re all really looking forward to what he can do on Sunday.”

“He’s working the way we want him to, but I can feel he wants to do even more. We ran a two-minute lick and he breezed the last half mile in 47 and 2/5 seconds.”

Sabertooth is one of eight horses to be nominated to run in the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap this coming Sunday. He was invited by Churchill Downs Director of Racing Doug Bredar to run in the $150,000 Aristides Breeders’ Cup Handicap, Gr. III, on June 25 as well. Owner Bob Sparling was delighted with the invitation, but has chosen to keep Sabertooth in Washington instead.

“Emerald Downs and Sabertooth get along quite well,” Kay Cooper said. “As delighted as [owner] Bob [Sparling] and we are with the offer, we are going to go forward in the mile race Sunday.”

A winner of six races from 21 starts, the 7-year-old by Petersburg has earned $273,075 in his career. He is sixth on the all-time list of earners at Emerald Downs and second among active runners.

He set his world record as FSN broadcasted the FSN Handicap from Emerald Downs on May 22nd. The Budweiser Emerald handicap will also be broadcast live on FSN from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Salt Grinder, another notable contender from the Penney barn and a co-record holder for 6 furlongs at Emerald Downs (1:07 3/5), is reported to be training well also. His next step on the racetrack is yet to be determined.

“We’ll probably give him a work in the next few days,” Bryson Cooper said. “We aren’t too sure where he’ll run next though. There are a number of different options before him.”

Cooper indicated a desire to keep all his Longacres Mile contenders active, but would prefer their only meeting for the time being is in the shed row.

“We want to keep them [Sabertooth, Flamethrowintexan, Salt Grinder] separated for now,” he said. “If we can, we would much prefer they not have to face each other. The goal is that one big race this summer that we all look forward to. If that’s the first time they face each other, that would be ideal.”

* Trainer Aubrey Villyard said he will enter Random Memo in the Budweiser-Emerald.

“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to win a race this big,” Villyard said. “He’s ready and a mile is a good distance for him. He outran all the other 4-year-old horses in the FSN.”

Villyard said Debbie Hoonan will ride the 4-year-old gelding.

* Poker Brad has been working well and the distance suits the 7-year-old son of Go-For-Gin according to trainer Tim McCanna.

“A mile is his distance,” McCanna said. “He’ll be ready.”