04/21/2005 12:00AM

Regal Red faces rare challenge


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Regal Red, who was never threatened in any of her five stakes wins in 2004, could face a serious challenge from a very fast Pretty Meadow in the $40,000 Strawberry Morn Stakes at Hastings Saturday.

Socorro County, Le Belle Fleur, and Overact round out the field in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

Regal Red, owned by Linwood Stables, dominated the 3-year-old filly division at Hastings last year. She rang up five consecutive stakes wins, by an average margin of 5 1/2 lengths, and she was never set down in the stretch in any of them.

A homebred daughter of On Target, Regal Red was turned out after her easy win in the B.C. Cup Stallion Stakes on Aug. 2, though, and has never faced older runners. With the very tough Pretty Meadow breaking from the rail, this should be Regal Red's sternest test.

Her trainer, Robbie Anderson, is pleased with how Regal Red is coming into the race.

Pretty Meadow, owned by Budget Stable and trained by Janet Armstrong, looks like a genuine threat. After being off for almost a year, she ran a huge race to finish a close fourth in the Cover Girl Stakes last September. She came back on Oct. 11 and won a $35,000 optional sprint by five lengths and followed that 20 days later with a 5 1/2-length win over Elana d'Amour in a subsequent allowance race.

Anthony Stephen will ride Pretty Meadow for the first time on Saturday.