06/27/2002 11:00PM

Elana can handle any scenario


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Elana D'Amour looks like a standout in Sunday's $35,000 Emerald Downs Handicap at Hastings Park. The 6 1/2-furlong feature drew six other horses, but if Elana D'Amour runs her usual race, the rest of the field will be running for second money.

Elana D'Amour has won three of her last four races, two of them stakes, and is versatile enough that it doesn't matter how the race sets up. In her two sprints this year, a win in the Fair Lady Stakes and a second-place finish in a $40,000 allowance race, she tracked the leaders early. In her most recent race, a half-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Liberation Stakes on June 16, she trailed the field early and then made an eye-catching move to take the lead just past the eighth pole.

"I would like to see her come from about mid-pack, but it doesn't really matter," trainer Joe Apperloo said. "If they aren't going too fast up front she can track them."

Apperloo also said he isn't worried about shortening her up after such a big effort going a middle distance.

Wet weather is in the forecast, but that doesn't bother Apperloo either. "She loves a wet track," he said.

Fast and Free looks like the horse with the best chance of pulling off an upset. She finished third to Elana D'Amour in the Liberation and was beaten by only 1 3/4 lengths after being up close to a quick pace. She should appreciate the move back to a sprint.

R C Gangster, who drew the rail, ships in from Emerald with good speed and looks like the one they will be chasing.