09/24/2003 11:00PM

'Orchids' good as any other


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's hard to take a strong stand in the Saturday feature at Hastings, a $50,000 optional sprint that drew nine 3-year-olds. There's plenty of quality, but no standouts, and it appears to be anyone's race.

Orchids Spirit, who is owned by Shannon Farms, will certainly attract some betting. A homebred son of Cryptoclearance, Orchids Spirit has won his last two starts, both at this level, and his trainer, Rick Kamps is hoping for a good trip from his rail slot.

"He seems to have matured lately," he said. "He has good speed but I think that in this case he's better off stalking. Hopefully the rail will open up for him."

Felipe Valdez, who has been aboard for two of Orchids Spirit's three wins, has the call Saturday.

Weepinbell is trying to get back on track. He won two races and was stakes placed as a juvenile, but his best race in three starts this year was a third-place finish to Bold Texas in a similar spot July 13. He finished up the track in two subsequent races, stakes at Emerald Downs. He should appreciate what is likely to be a hotly contested battle for the lead.

Weepinbell is trained by Gary Demorest and will be ridden by leading rider Pedro Alvarado.

Devil in the Sky has never been worse than second in seven previous sprints and is capable of stalking the pace. He hasn't raced since Aug. 3, though.

Five Point Star and Leather N Lace appear to need the lead and both are capable of setting extremely fast fractions. Leather N Lace won the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi Cola Handicap at Emerald May 26 but hasn't won since.