06/20/2002 12:00AM

Cruising Kat slight edge in sprint


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Cruising Kat looks like a lukewarm choice over six other three-year-olds in a $50,000 optional race for non-winners of two races at Hastings Park Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint is the seventh of 13 races.

Cruising Kat showed stakes potential when he beat entry level allowance horses at Golden Gate in December, but hasn't made an impact in four straight added-money events.

His best showing was a third to Commodore Craig in the City of Vancouver on May 5, but he followed that up by finishing a distant fifth in the Klondike on June 2. In both of his wins he came from well off the pace, and with Crimson Mint and Irish Eh in the field, there should be an honest enough pace to set up his late move. He is the only horse in the race with two wins, and will have to run for the $50,000 price tag.

Irish Eh, Zip The Bright, and Jovocop are all coming into the race off maiden wins. Irish Eh was the most impressive, as he sped 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18 flat, while beating $35,000 maidens on May 25.

But he was allowed to set moderate fractions that day, and with the speedy Crimson Mint drawn to his immediate inside, he will face a lot more pressure right out of the gate. Trainer Steve Bryant has named Felipe Valdez to ride.

Crimson Mint could be the wake-up horse. He won his debut impressively on the Nursery Course last June, but was turned out for the rest of the year. He disappointed in his return on April 28, but showed much more zip in his most recent start, a third to Tens Are Wild for $35,000 on May 26.