05/15/2002 11:00PM

'Katabatic' no kid, but still choice

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's hard to figure who will be favored in the 6 1/2 furlong Spring Sprint Stakes at Hastings on Saturday. Ball and Chain, King Jeremy, and Kid Katabatic have all been sharp preparing for their first outings this year while I'm Free and Diglett are coming off of less than stellar efforts in the George Royal Stakes April 28.

Kid Katabatic could get the nod off of his last five-furlong prep. His 59.40-second work on May 8 was two seconds faster than the second best work of the day. Trainer Shauna Ferguson is happy with his progress as a 9-year-old. "He's another year older, but Sir Bear won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Handicap this year and he's 9, so there's no reason Kid Katabatic can't run well," she said.

One race Ferguson has ruled out is the Longacres Mile, which Kid Katabatic won in 1997. "Our main goal is the B.C. Classic. Since they don't have many races beyond a mile at Emerald, we'll keep him here."

Ferguson has moved her base of operations back to Hastings Park after being stabled at Emerald the past few years. "Most of my clients are Canadian and they wanted me to race here," she said.

After a dull fifth in the George Royal Stakes, I'm Free will go back to wearing blinkers Saturday. "I had been wanting to try him without blinkers for a long time," said trainer Henry Miller Jr. "But he really washed out on post parade so we'll put them back on. He worked super [1:00 for five furlongs May 12] with them on before the races last weekend."

Post time for the live card is 1:23 p.m. Pacific. The Preakness will be simulcast from Pimlico Race Course at 3:09 pm.

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