01/09/2004 12:00AM

Saintly Look gets back to sprinting

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NEW ORLEANS - There are some nice horses entered in the Colonel Power Handicap, but it's possible that one stands out. has raced just once since last March, and didn't even win, but this 4-year-old colt could have a strong season in graded stakes-level sprint races.

So go the hopes, at least, of his trainer, Dallas Stewart. "I'm hoping later on in the year he could be a Breeders' Cup Sprint type of horse," Stewart said.

For now, the Breeders' Cup sits well below the horizon, but if Saintly Look is going to start on that path, he should beat the seven horses entered against him in the six-furlong, $60,000 Colonel Power. Taxicat, one of the seven, was cross-entered in an allowance race Sunday.

Saintly Look won two stakes at Fair Grounds last season, the six-furlong Sugar Bowl and the one-mile Lecomte. Stewart and owner William Carl gave Saintly Look a chance to become a true route horse, but Saintly Look finished fifth in the Risen Star and the Lane's End Spiral. A broken blood vessel in his hock cost him the second half of his 3-year-old season.

The two-turn experiment has ended, and Stewart will focus on sprints now.

Saintly Look made his comeback Nov. 22 at Churchill Downs, finishing second by three-quarters of a length to Eugene's Third Son, a vastly talented sprinter. The winning time for that 6 1/2-furlong race was 1:14.60, an incredibly fast time, and Saintly Look has continued to train sharply as Stewart readies him for the meat of this season.

"His first race back was awesome," said Stewart. "We've just been waiting for the better races with more money later in the year."

But if Saintly Look disappoints, the Colonel Power becomes a crapshoot. Aloha Bold was second to Posse in the Thanksgiving Handicap, but regressed and finished third at 4-5 odds in an allowance race Dec. 20. Second in that heat was Premium Saltine, a 5-year-old gelding who improved for trainer Al Stall last summer and has maintained that form through the fall and winter.

Ole Rebel comes out of an allowance win, while Out of My Way - continuing a run of bad luck for trainer Greg Geier - had early trouble when he finished fourth behind Aloha Bold on Dec. 20. Cashel Castle ran well in his grass debut last time out, and El Ruller, making his first start since a strong win July 5 at Arlington, is the wild card here.