05/12/2004 12:00AM

Kat Kool only needs better break


CALGARY, Alberta - A first-level allowance for 3-year-olds drew a strong field of nine as Friday's featured eighth race.

Three-year-olds hold the spotlight here the entire weekend with the 36th running of the President's for colts and geldings on Saturday followed by the 31st running of the Mount Royal for fillies the next day.

Kat Kool was nominated to the President's, but trainer Red Smith opted for Friday's six-furlong test following the gelding's third-place finish as the favorite in an allowance race here April 30. A promising Kentucky-bred, Kat Kool did not break sharply that day and failed to fire after being stuck behind horses along the inside.

While he will be well-backed to make amends Friday, Kat Kool faces some serious challengers in the $17,000 sprint, which came up surprisingly tough.

Awesome Devil, a strong second to Saw Grass Sabre, who is expected to contest the President's for Smith on Saturday, returns with Stephan Heiler up.

Rickey Walcott, who had been riding Awesome Devil, has opted here for Laskeek Bay, who finished second to Ozzie's J J in the split of Kat Kool's race on April 30.

To add to the intrigue, Quincy Welch will ride Cool Lad on Friday after being aboard Kat Kool in each of his four lifetime starts.

Peter Wong picks up the mount on Kat Kool, who drew post 2.

Awesome Devil, beaten by 1 1/4 lengths in the faster half of the split allowances two weeks ago, drew post 5 with Laskeek Bay breaking just to his outside.