05/21/2001 11:00PM

Diglett goes to head of the class

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Diglett rebounded from a disappointing race to win the $36,141 Klondike Stakes at Hastings Park last Saturday. He did it convincingly and left no doubt that he is the best 3-year-old at Hastings Park right now.

Diglett was named the champion 2-year-old in British Columbia last year but when he made his 3-year-old debut in an opening-day allowance race he never picked up the bit and finished a dull third. Trainer Gary Demorest later discovered that Diglett had a low white blood cell count, so the trainer gave him some time off before resuming serious training. Diglett came back better than ever and with Sam Krasner aboard, he bided his time early, then made a strong move to take command on the stretch turn, and drew off to an easy 2 1/2-length victory.

"After he worked so well last weekend I was pretty sure he was back to his old self," said a relieved Demorest. "It looks like we can move on to the next step."

Demorest plans to run Diglett in the Burnaby June 30, but his main goal is to have a fresh horse heading into late summer and fall. "He won that pretty easily so I think we'll mostly run him here until the Emerald Derby comes along," he said.

Diglett figures to get even better when the races get longer. His only other stakes win was in the $130,000 Ascot Graduation at 1 1/16 miles and he also won an allowance race at 8 1/2 furlongs last fall. Diglett is a half-brother to Saratoga Passage, the all-time leading money-winning Washington-bred with more than $800,000 in earnings and a win in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at

1 1/16 miles. It's hard to believe that Diglett's owner Rodger Lam paid only $9,000 to purchase him as a yearling from the Washington Thoroughbred Breeder's Summer Sale in 1999.

"He turns out a bit and he's not perfectly correct so that might have thrown a few potential buyers off," said Demorest. "But he's well balanced and he moves easily enough so he's not hard on himself."

Local fans didn't give up on Diglett because of one poor race and he paid $4 as the even-money favorite. Final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:16.86.

* Trainer Dave Forster wrote the script for Sunday's three-horse $32,508 Supernaturel Stakes and all three horses played their parts perfectly. Forster saddled both Up to Me and Castle Mountain with the idea of using Up to Me to soften up four-time stakes winner Queen of My Nights. That's exactly what happened with Castle Mountain taking charge at the top of the stretch and then going on to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Queen of My Nights.

Castle Mountain is undefeated in three starts and still hasn't been asked to run down the lane. "It was pretty easy but I don't ever want to have a match race," said Patzer. "She breaks out of there and she wants to start running right away so you have to pull on her pretty hard. But once the dirt starts hitting her face she settles down and relaxes nicely for you and you can put her anywhere you want."

Forster says that Castle Mountain will most likely make her next start in the

1 1/16-mile Liberation June 17.

Final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:17.72 and Castle Mountain paid $3.60 as a slight favorite over Queen of My Nights.