11/03/2005 1:00AM

Distance the question for 'Force'


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Guard Force will try to carry his speed around three turns for the first time when he faces a tough group of older horses in the sixth race at Hastings Saturday. Only five horses have been entered in the optional $20,000 race at 1 1/16 miles, and any one of the five could win it.

Guard Force has turned out to be an excellent claim by trainer Tom Longstaff. A Washington-bred son of Skywalker, Guard Force has won two races since being haltered for $5,000 Aug. 28, and in his latest start he finished a very good second in a $20,000 sprint Oct. 22.

Guard Force has brilliant speed and he's led from start to finish in all three of his career wins. In his race on Oct. 22, he battled with Daring Mood through very fast fractions and the early duel took its toll, as he didn't have anything left to hold off Above the Clouds. Guard Force is going to have to deal with Daring Mood again, and it will be interesting to see if his jockey, Justin Stein, will be able to harness his speed this time.

If a speed duel develops again it should set up nicely for Baron's Rank. Trained by John Morrison, Baron's Rank ran evenly to finish fourth in the same race Guard Force exits, but he's proven at Saturday's distance and should get a good trip leaving from the rail. Pedro Alvarado rides.

Sunrise Serenade came from off of the pace to beat optional $15,000 claimers Oct. 23, and his trainer, Brian O'Connell, is having an excellent meet with his small string of horses.