10/03/2002 12:00AM

Droppers face two rising stars

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - After going unplaced in the $200,000 B.C. Derby, stakes winners No Time Flat and Ekati look for some class relief as they drop into a $50,000 optional race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Hastings Park. It didn't turn out to be an easy spot, though, as the field also includes Leloup and Eternal Odyssey, who have shown tremendous potential in their short careers.

Eternal Odyssey has raced only twice. He got away slowly in his debut and them made a furious charge to miss by a head to Leloup. Eternal Odyssey didn't make any mistakes in his second start, as he broke sharply and cruised to an easy 2 3/4-length win in a very good 1:17.34 for the 6 1/2 furlongs. He's facing a much sterner task Saturday but his trainer, John Morrison, thinks he could be up to it.

"He has a tremendous amount of talent and the only thing I worry about is his lack of seasoning," said Morrison. "I don't think the distance will be any real problem but I would be more confident if he had [Felipe] Valdez aboard because he knows him so well."

Valdez is the regular rider of No Time Flat, whom he rides Saturday. Amir Cedeno has the call on Eternal Odyssey.

No Time Flat won the Ascot Graduation last year and has been stakes-placed three times this year, including a third in the Canadian Derby.

Leloup got off to a slow beginning in his debut but came right back to win his second start. He defeated $50,000 optional sprinters Sept. 21, and certainly looks like he will thrive going a middle distance.

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