09/07/2004 11:00PM

Areyoutalkintome faces elders again

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Doug O'Neill didn't make any wrong moves in winning his first Del Mar training title, so his decision to run 3-year-old Areyoutalkintome against older in Saturday's $100,000 California Sprint Championship merits a close look.

"He's such a cool horse, and Corey [Nakatani] knows him so well," O'Neill said. "I'm glad he's riding him Saturday."

A field of five seems likely for the six-furlong race, a good prep for the Cal Cup Sprint.

O'Neill considered several other races before settling on the Sprint Championship. He nominated Areyoutalkintome to Monday's $100,000 California Turf Championship at Bay Meadows, even though Areyoutalkintome, 4-4-3 in 11 starts, had never run on the turf or around two turns.

He also considered the Foothill Stakes at Pomona but opted to come north instead.

"He trains like a horse that will go two turns," O'Neill said. "Somewhere down the road, we'll be stretching him around two turns.

"We looked at the Foothill, but we want to keep him on a mile track and not throw in a bullring as an excuse. We thought about keeping him against Cal-breds. After we weighed everything, we thought this was the best spot."

Areyoutalkintome won his stakes debut in the $100,000 Real Good Deal at seven furlongs in his last start on Aug. 6.

"That was an impressive race," O'Neill said. "I remember thinking if we hit the board, it would be good. When we left the winner's circle, we were feeling like King Kong."

This is not Areyoutalkintome's first start against older, but it is his toughest competition. If he has a vulnerability, it's that he doesn't usually show speed.

"I know speed holds well up there, and if a good horse gets an easy lead, he's not going to catch him," O'Neill said.

Sloat Blvd will have to be caught

Friday's feature, a six-furlong allowance race, offers an interesting mix with a trio of 3-year-olds meeting three older runners.

Sloat Blvd, a speedy 3-year-old, is the one to catch and has won three straight races. Never worse than second in five career starts, Sloat Blvd has scored his three victories in wire-to-wire style.

His primary rival could be Whirley Side, who has 3 wins and 3 seconds in 6 career starts against Thoroughbreds, all in claiming races. He won three straight on the fair circuit, including a pair of stakes, against mixed company - meeting Quarter Horses and Appaloosas - and has won four straight overall.