10/06/2005 12:00AM

Cahill Ruler has factors in his favor

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - There are plenty of contenders in the feature race at Hastings Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds running for a top claiming price of $20,000 drew eight horses that are hard to separate.

A possible favorite is Cahill Ruler. A Washington-bred son of Cahill Road, Cahill Ruler finished fifth in a $35,000 route Sept. 17, but in his previous race, he beat $25,000 sprinters Sept. 4. Also in his favor is his strong record on off tracks - 3 wins from 4 starts - and with rain in the forecast there's a very good chance the track will come up wet.

Trained by Robert Rohman, Cahill Ruler has tactical speed, and with no real speedsters in the field he'll likely be involved in the early stages of the race. He'll be ridden by Pedro Alvarado.

Free Training, trained by Robert Gilker, has won 3 of his last 4 starts. He got up in time to nip next-out winner Fraser Canyon in a $15,000 sprint

Sept. 18, and the last time he ran for $20,000 he was an easy 4 1/2-length winner over Leo's County Kat.

American Poet has won by coming from far back and he's also led from start to finish. Given the lack of true speed in the field, it

wouldn't be surprising to see his jockey, Chad Hoverson, send him right to the front.

Howe Sound also has some speed and he's coming off of a good effort where he set moderate fractions and then tired to finish fourth in a $35,000 route Sept. 17.