11/07/2003 1:00AM

Nihilator solid pick on drop


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Nihilator figures to be a solid favorite in the Hastings feature Sunday, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race for 2-year-olds that have not won a stakes of $20,000 or more.

Nihilator has been stakes-placed twice. He finished third to Proud Son in the B.C. Cup Nursery Stakes Aug. 4 and he also finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Ascot Graduation in his last start, Oct. 19. In all of his races he has been either on the lead or battling for that position during the early stages - and with an inside draw in post 2, he is likely to be the one they'll be chasing Sunday. He set quick fractions in the Ascot before giving way late, and with two solid breezes since, it appears he is ready for another good effort. Leading rider Pedro Alvarado rides.

Louie Downtown beat Nihilator in an allowance race at the

1 1/16-mile distance of Sunday's race on Oct. 4, but followed that race with a sixth in the Ascot. In both races, Louie Downtown, with Cayetano Chaparro aboard, stalked Nihilator and made a run at him at the top of the stretch. It is possible that the different results are attributable to the condition of the track. It was fast when Louie Downtown won but sloppy for the Ascot. The weather forecast is for a fast track on Sunday.

Wild Caribe's chances grow if the top two hook up early. He made a threatening move in the Ascot but hung after going four wide. He drew the rail, and if Felipe Valdez can find a shorter way home, Wild Caribe could make a big impact late.

Trick of the North was a 7 1/2-length winner over $25,000 maidens in his only start and has the potential to pull off an upset.