08/08/2003 12:00AM

Condotierri will be flying late


AUBURN, Wash. - Condotierri heads a field of eight in Sunday's $65,000 Seattle Slew Breeders' Cup Handicap, the final prep for the $125,000 Emerald Derby on Sept. 1.

Condotierri, a late-running son of Candy Stripes, will shoulder high weight of 122 pounds, including regular rider Gallyn Mitchell, for the 1 1/16-mile stakes. He is coming off a breakthrough effort in the July 13 Tacoma Handicap, in which he came from far back to score by nearly six lengths in 1:42.20 for 1 1/16 miles.

"It was his best race so far, and he came out of it really good," said trainer Craig Roberts. "I'm happy with his condition, but it is always important for him to have some speed to run at. He wants to come from pretty far back."

The primary speed of the Seattle Slew appears to be Knightsbridge Road, who won the mile Table Run Stakes before finishing second to Condotierri in the Tacoma. In the Tacoma, Knightsbridge Road pressed fast fractions.

"We're hoping for a different pace scenario this time," said trainer Debbie Van Horne. "The other speed in the Tacoma didn't enter back for this race, so maybe we'll be able to slow things down and finish better."

Hastings Park invader Stratoplan might race closest to Knightsbridge Road on Sunday, and he is a potent threat off his route form. Stratoplan, a son of Game Plan who will be saddled by Rick Terry, ran second against older foes when stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in an optional claiming race on June 15, then returned on June 28 to post a five-length victory over his 3-year-old peers in the 1 1/16-mile Burnaby Handicap.