05/22/2003 12:00AM

Catch 'Carousel' if you can

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Horses who were running at Santa Anita last winter look like the ones to beat in Saturday's feature race at Hastings Park, a $25,000 claiming sprint that drew nine runners. It goes as the second race.

The one they will have to catch is Slew's Carousel, and if he runs back to his races in March and April they probably won't.

Slew's Carousel, who was claimed out of his last start, a fourth-place finish for $16,000 at Santa Anita on April 20, finished second for $32,000 on April 5 and was also second in a $25,000 claiming race March 16. In both cases he was close to a quick pace and held on well in the stretch.

There doesn't appear to be much other speed in the field. Since arriving here Slew's Carousel has worked an extremely fast half-mile in 46.20 seconds May 14. His trainer, Gary Demorest, is off to a great start at the meet, with three wins from his first nine starters.

Northern Crown showed some speed in his two wins in California. He led from gate to wire in a $16,000 claiming sprint at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22 and came right back with a stalking trip to win for the same price at Santa Anita on Jan. 25. He was claimed for $12,500 on March 16 and shipped up to Hastings after a dull effort at Santa Anita. In his first start at Hastings he made up almost 13 lengths to get up for fourth.

National Park was also claimed out of a $12,500 claiming race at Santa Anita on Jan. 18 and finished second for $25,000 in his first start at Hastings.