11/27/2003 1:00AM

Distance a challenge for 'Battle'


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Battle Group will try to remain undefeated when he makes his third lifetime start in the feature race at Hastings, a 1 1/16-mile unrestricted allowance race for 3-year-olds.

In his first two starts, both sprints, Battle Group showed he could be something special. He blew away a modest field of $15,000 maidens by 7 1/4 lengths when he debuted Oct. 26 and then came right back to beat a tough field of $15,000 older optional horses Nov. 15. This will be his first time going a middle distance, but his trainer, Janet Armstrong, thinks that he shouldn't have any trouble handling the extra distance.

In both of his sprints, Battle Group showed excellent speed while seemingly travelling effortlessly. If his jockey, Chris Loseth, can harness that speed, Battle Group will be tough to beat Saturday.

Trainer Cindy Krasner appears to have Native Judge headed in the right direction. He showed great promise as a 2-year-old and was sent to Woodbine to begin his 3-year-old season. He didn't run a jump in three starts there, but he's come around nicely since stretching out in his last three outings.

Frank Fuentes will ride.

Bullseye Bill, a stakes winner at 2, led all the way to win for the first time as a 3-year-old in a 1 1/16-mile $35,000 optional race Nov. 16. He set very slow fractions, though, and he's not likely to enjoy the same kind of trip here.

The likely pace scenario should help Woody's Dancer, who rallied to finish second to Bullseye Bill in his last start.