07/09/2002 11:00PM

Speedsters may set up the 'Count'

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Thundering Herd will likely be favored over seven other 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles and running for a top claiming price of $25,000 in the Hastings Park feature race this Friday evening. First post is 5 pm.

Thundering Herd has already won two races at the current meet, both sprints, and finished a very good second in his latest race, a $35,000 claiming event going 8 1/2 furlongs June 30. It was his first try going a middle distance, and he set the early fractions before being overtaken by Nomisstaken Kris approaching the top of the stretch. He led every step of the way in both of his sprint wins and it seems safe to assume that his rider, Fernando Serna, will be sending him to the front from his outside post position. Terry Marshall trains.

Thundering Herd figures to have some company up front, though. Mr. Masquerade set quick fractions on his way to a 4 3/4-length win over $20,000 maidens at 6 1/2 furlongs June 23. If Felipe Valdez, the rider for Mr. Masquerade, and Serna can't slow their horses down, it could set up for Count Katahaula, who does his best running late.

Count Katahaula started off the year with a come-from-behind win over $25,000 claimers April 28 but was dull in his next couple of starts, a seventh place finish in a $50,000 optional race May 12 and then sixth in a $35,000 claiming sprint May 26. He was given some time off by his trainer, Jim Brown, and resurfaced in a $25,000 sprint June 30 where he broke in the air and never threatened.

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