10/10/2003 11:00PM

No stakes, but three good races


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - There are no stakes races scheduled at Hastings on Thanksgiving Monday, but it's still an excellent card that includes three optional claiming races which figure to be competitive affairs.

The fourth race at 6 1/2 furlongs features a matchup between one of the best sprinters at Hastings this year, Celt, and Discernment, a 3-year-old who was impressive winning a similar race Sept. 21. Both horses like to be in front but Celt should have the advantage from his inside post.

Pretty Meadow could have the edge over Think Fast and Payton's Pride in the eighth race, a 6 1/2-furlong $35,000 optional claiming race for fillies and mares.

Pretty Meadow finished first in her last two sprint races but couldn't carry her speed when she tried to stretch out in her next two starts. In her most recent outing, Pretty Meadow set the early fractions before tiring in the Grade 3 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks. Payton's Pride made a big late move to finish second in the Oaks and is certainly adept at 6 1/2 furlongs, winning three of her last four starts at the distance.

The ninth race, a $50,000 optional claiming race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles, is the hardest of the three races to handicap. Weepinbell is coming off an improved effort and should appreciate what figures to be a lively pace. Here's Your Ticket was an impressive front-running winner over $20,000 claimers Sept. 28, but he will face a lot more pressure here from Eatonville Cruiser and Lord Chivas.