04/24/2003 11:00PM

Salt Grinder adds spice to Seattle

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AUBURN, Wash. - Nine sprinters, including nine-time local stakes winner Handy N Bold, will line up for Sunday's six-furlong Seattle Handicap. The field also includes Colterkind, who was named last season's claimer of the meeting after capping a four-race win streak with a victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap.

But it's the Jim Penney-trained entry of Salt Grinder and Turban, both 4-year-olds who will be making their first start against older horses, which will rule as a strong favorite.

Salt Grinder ensured the entry's status atop the wagering heap when he worked brilliantly on April 18, getting six furlongs in 1:09.60 under exercise rider Bryson Cooper. The drill seemed to confirm Salt Grinder's form as a 3-year-old, when he won stakes at both Hastings Park and Emerald Downs and twice finished second to Emerald horse of the meeting Flying Notes, who was not nominated for the Seattle.

Turban is more than just a throw-in, as the lightly raced son of Lord Avie won two of three outings here last season. He won his 6 1/2-furlong debut in 1:15.60 and defeated allowance company with a mile in 1:34.80.

Three Hastings Park-based shippers will add an international flavor to the field. I'm Free and Diglett are both stakes winners at Hastings, while Laffit won last year's Foothill Stakes at Fairplex before relocating in Canada.

Sunday's state-wide simulcast event will be the Portland Meadows Mile, the highlight of the 80-day Portland Meadows meet, which ends on Sunday. All seven in the closely matched field are expected to ship to Emerald after the Mile.