06/04/2003 11:00PM

Halo Cat can catch speed types

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - One of the truisms of racing is that pace makes the race.

One thing is certain in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint at six furlongs: There will be plenty of pace with Presidio Heights and El Dorado Shooter in the field.

If Presidio Heights and El Dorado Shooter compromise each other's chances, Halo Cat could be the horse to benefit and close from off the pace.

Although he lost to El Dorado Shooter in the Oakland Handicap last December at Golden Gate Fields and to Presidio Heights in their April 19 meeting in the Atherton Handicap at Bay Meadows, Halo Cat did defeat El Dorado Shooter in the Montclair Handicap Jan. 19, when Our Magistrate forced El Dorado Shooter into an early speed duel.

Leading rider Russell Baze, who has been aboard El Dorado Shooter for two stakes wins and a second-place finish, will ride Halo Cat Saturday.

"The race sets up better for Halo Cat," Baze said. "It's entirely possible they can run so fast no one can catch them, but Halo Cat has a really potent kick. I don't think it will surprise anyone if he wins."

Although El Dorado Shooter and Presidio Heights have keen early speed, they are not easy to catch, even when challenged early.

"When horses run [six furlongs in 1:07 to 1:08], it's hard to close on them," Presidio Heights's trainer Art Sherman said.

Halo Cat's trainer Jerry Hollendorfer respects El Dorado Shooter and Presidio Heights.

"It just depends how the speed is holding," Hollendorfer said. "Speed is always dangerous, especially in California, and it's even more prominent in northern California."

That doesn't mean Hollendorfer is planning to change Halo Cat's stalking style. The 5-year-old Southern Halo gelding has won 9 of 24 starts, including three stakes victories at Golden Gate Fields, and earned $299,145.

In winning the Kings Court Stakes at Louisiana Downs last June 28, Halo Cat was second early and went on to post a Beyer Speed Figure of 110. He's also posted a 112 in winning the Montclair Handicap at Golden Gate in January. Those numbers are the highest in the field except for El Dorado Shooter's 116 in 2001.

Halo Cat figures to be third down the backstretch in the Sprint behind Presidio Heights and El Dorado Shooter and ahead of Taste of Paradise and Radar Contact. He should be first at the wire.