11/22/2007 1:00AM

Fast Parade needs his best

EmailThere was no better turf sprinter in the country as 2006 turned to 2007 than Fast Parade, who won three straight from August 2006 to January 2007. But Fast Parade came out of the Kilroe Mile in March with a knee injury that has sidelined him for eight months.

When he returns on Saturday at Hollywood Park, in the Grade 3, $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express, Fast Parade will be a formidable opponent. If, that is, Fast Parade can return to his optimum sprint form, because this edition of the Turf Express features several horses whose sharp condition could put them on par with the very best Fast Parade has to offer.

"He's training very well, like his old self," Peter Miller, who trains Fast Parade, said Thursday morning from San Luis Rey Downs, where he is based. "We've been pointing to this race all along as his comeback race. He's undefeated sprinting on turf. If he can come back to those races, he'll be very tough to beat. And he runs well fresh."

A field of 10 is entered in the six-furlong Turf Express, which goes as the ninth race on a 10-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific.

For a sprint, the Turf Express does not have an abundance of flat-out early speed. The pacesetter could be the 3-year-old Desert Code, who has not raced since July and will be making his first start against older horses. He won a pair of turf sprints on Santa Anita's hillside course earlier this year.

"We decided to freshen him after the Swaps, which was a real tough race on him," said David Hofmans, the trainer of Desert Code. "He didn't even go to Del Mar."

Hofmans said that the Malibu, the Grade 1 stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, "is the goal."

"Saturday's race is a stepping-stone to the Malibu," he said. "There's some quick horses in the race, but I think he's the fastest. He's pretty tough when he makes the lead."

There are several others with excellent chances.

T.D. Vance is one of the East Coast's elite turf sprinters. He was an unlucky loser of the Woodford Stakes at Keeneland in his last start.

Bonfante most recently was second in the California Cup Sprint on dirt, and is a nose away from being unbeaten in two turf sprints at Hollywood.

Quietly Mine was second and Moth Ball fourth last time out in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine.

Night Chapter had a rough trip in the Morvich at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting after defeating Moth Ball in a similar hillside sprint four weeks earlier.

El Manuel is unbeaten in three turf sprints, including a downhill victory at Oak Tree in his last start.