11/20/2003 12:00AM

'Amarillo' should like distance

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - With a long-distance Tomlinson rating of 397, Amarillo Star should be able handle the 1 3/8 miles of the seventh race at Hastings, a $6,000 optional claimer/starter allowance for 3-year-olds and up. It's a bit surprising that, up until now, his trainer and part-owner, Alex Murray, hasn't tried Amarillo Star at a distance longer than 1 1/8 miles.

"I know he can run all day," said Murray. "It's just that the price of the Endurance Series is too high for him. He can't run with horses like Colonial Secretary and Lucky Son, but he's a real plodder, and he should love going a mile and three-eighths with the horses he's running with Saturday."

Amarillo Star, a 6-year-old gelding who will be ridden by David Wilson, doesn't come close to having the same credentials as one of his stablemates, B.C. Derby and Classic winner Vernon Invader, but he's still a favorite in the Murray barn.

"He doesn't run fast enough to hurt himself, but he gives it his best every time and he pays his way," said Murray.

Amarillo Star has won six races in 47 starts. His most recent win came Oct. 13 in an $8,000 nonwinners of three. He has lifetime earnings of $62,888.

It's hard to predict who will be the favorite in the 10-horse field, but Crystallo is certain to attract support. Crystallo is dropping from $11,000 and is the only horse that has placed at the distance.

Tata Pantoja is going for his third win in a row and is trained by leading trainer Dino Condilenios. He'll be ridden by leading rider Pedro Alvarado.