08/29/2002 12:00AM

Buckeye Bates looks tough


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Buckeye Bates should be heavily favored over six other older horses when he goes for his sixth straight win Saturday at Hastings Park. The 6 1/2-furlong race carries a top claiming price of $25,000, and attracted former stakes winner Name for Norm, who won his comeback race after being away for almost four years.

Buckeye Bates is as honest as they come. A 5-year-old son of Bates Motel, Buckeye Bates has won 6 of 8 starts over three years and missed by only a head in one of his two defeats. Buckeye Bates isn't the soundest horse and trainer Frank Barroby usually gives him plenty of time off between races. He's coming back just three weeks after his easy win over $20,000 claimers Aug. 10, and figures to be extremely tough to beat Saturday.

Name for Norm's last race before his win over $6,000 claimers Aug. 3 was in August 1998. A multiple stakes winner, Name for Norm earned more than $250,000 before being injured and going to stud. He was a better racehorse than a stallion, and since his injury had thoroughly healed, he was put back in training in winter.

"He came out of his race in great shape," trainer Michael Turner said.

A jump from $6,000 to $25,000 is a big move up, and with Buckeye Bates in the field, it's hard to see Name for Norm winning Saturday. Then again, how many horses have come back to win after being away from the races for four years?

If Buckeye Bates doesn't run his usual race Rugger has the most potential of pulling off an upset.