10/16/2003 12:00AM

Laurel: 12 entered in Sonny Hine


Northern Air and Gators N Bears head a group of 12 3-year-old sprinters in Saturday's $50,000 Sonny Hine Stakes, the six-furlong feature at Laurel Park.

Northern Air, part of a Michael Gill-owned entry with Philadelphia Jim, ran the best race of his career earlier this month, winning the six-furlong Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

Gators N Bears, who is based at Laurel with owner-trainer Leo Nechamkin, posted back-to-back Beyers of 107 and 108 while winning a pair of sprint stakes at Monmouth Park in July and August. He prepped for Saturday's race by working four furlongs in a bullet 46 seconds last weekend.

"He is versatile but he really likes to have something to run at," jockey Rick Wilson said. "I'm not sure there is anything in this race fast enough to get in front of him. If the track stays as fast as it has been, one of these horses will have to run 1:09 to beat him."

If the pace is hot and contested, the race could set up for Super Fuse. Based in New York with trainer Richard Ciardullo, Super Fuse was a late-running third behind Breeders' Cup Sprint candidate Valid Video in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder and fourth, beaten less than two lengths by Northern Air, as the 5-2 favorite in the Gallant Bob.