08/10/2001 12:00AM

'Knight' gets tested for class


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Nureyev's Knight was an impressive debut winner over $25,000 maidens July 25 and will try to beat a tough group of seasoned 3-year-olds in a 6 1/2-furlong $50,000 optional race Sunday at Hastings Park. He might be good enough.

Trainer John Snow had Nureyev's Knight primed and ready for his debut and he scored a 3 3/4 length victory in a quick 1:17.58 for 6 1/2 furlongs. The step up to optional company is a big one and Snow isn't quite sure how Nureyev's Knight would respond to the challenge.

"We're just testing the waters," he said. "This is a lot different field than the one he beat but he's training great and should run well."

One of the things that made the maiden win by Nureyev's Knight so impressive was that he looked very comfortable sitting behind front-runner Doing All Right and when Robert Skelly asked him to run he cruised to the front and then was hand-ridden down the lane to score convincingly. Skelly retains the mount.

The weather is supposed to remain sunny and hot and that's good news for Darlene Denchuk, who purchased Navigator's Castle out of northern California this spring. Since being purchased, Navigator's Castle has been eased in both the Alberta Derby and the Province Handicap. Both times he set the early pace over a wet track.

Generously could be the favorite off his last sprint, a second-place finish to Kat Dancer for this condition May 27. He tried stakes horses going 1 1/16 miles in his last two starts, but finished fifth and fourth, respectively.