03/25/2004 1:00AM

Cajun Beat good as gold


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Cajun Beat was a 22-1 outsider when he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita last October, but he will be strongly favored Saturday in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint at Nad Al Sheba.

American shippers will try to win the race for the fourth time in the last five years. Cajun Beat is one of five Americans in the Golden Shaheen, a six-furlong sprint that is run on a straightaway. The others are Alke, Our New Recruit, Tour of the Cat, and Tsigane.

"Six furlongs is America's race," said Stephen Margolis, who trains Cajun Beat for Padua Stable and John and Joe Iracane.

The Americans have seven rivals. If there is a non-American challenge, it is likely to come from Meiner Select, a top Japanese sprinter; Multidandy, a Hong Kong invader; Conroy and Feet So Fast, both local stakes winners; or State City, who is the defending champion. State City, who is owned by Godolphin Racing, was well beaten in four stakes in New York last year.

Cajun Beat is in post 3, to the inside of Tsigane and Tour of the Cat in posts 4 and 5. Our New Recruit, a California-based outsider, is in post 10, and Alke is drawn on the outside in the field of 12.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Alke is considered a clear second choice to Cajun Beat.

Cajun Beat has raced twice since the BC Sprint. He won the six-furlong Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3 and was second to Alke in the Deputy Minister Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 7. Cajun Beat carried 123 pounds in the Deputy Minister, 11 more than Alke. The early pace was slow - 23.04 and 46.05 seconds - and Alke kicked clear in the final furlong to score his first stakes win and fourth consecutive victory.

Following that race, Jerry Bailey replaced Cornelio Velasquez on Cajun Beat.

"Jerry and I had a talk. He'll put the horse in the position he needs to be," Margolis said. "You like to rate a little off it. Someone always tries to go."

Alke will be near the front, as will Our New Recruit. Tour of the Cat, winless in three starts since the Spend a Buck Handicap at Calder in October, is a closer. Tsigane is more likely to race in mid-pack.

Our New Recruit has yet to win a stakes, but has placed in two graded stakes in California in the last four months.

"The California horses are so quick, I don't see him too far back," said trainer John Sadler. "He still has to do it, and we're up against the Breeders' Cup winner. I think we have an upsetter's chance."

Fifth Race Probable Post 10:50 a.m. est

6 furlongs. 3-year-olds & up. Purse $2,000,000

23Cajun BeatJ D Bailey126BC Sprint winner profits from 11-lb weight shift w/Alke 3-2
112AlkeJ R Velazquez126Can surprise again if he pounces late5-1
711Meiner SelectY Take126Consistent Japanese gets acid test; goes for Take6-1
81MultidandyF Coetzee126Beaten in last by world's best turf sprinter; prefers dirt8-1
910Our New RecruitA Solis126Could be running late; jock won this with Big Jag 14-1
115Tour of the CatJ K Court126Back on dirt but in tough 20-1
107State CityL Dettori126Godolphin's defending champ has been absent 8-1
49ConroyG L Stevens126Won same prep last year before flopping in this 20-1
36ConcealR Hills126Should beat bottom three confirmed turfers 30-1
68Feet So FastT E Durcan 126Has shown decided preference fo r turf20-1
124TsiganeD R Flores126Dirt debut; Canani hoping for gypsy miracle20-1
52DantanaK McEvoy126Aussie has not handled switch to dirt30-1