05/12/2006 11:00PM

Speedsters must avoid pace duel


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - are two of the quickest turf horses in Southern California. Unfortunately, that sometimes has worked against them.

Occasionally, their blazing speed has prevented them from winning because they have become engaged in a speed duel. Conversely, Whata Soldier set the five-furlong course record of 55 seconds on turf by leading throughout the Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar last summer.

Monday, Slew's Prince and Whata Soldier start in the restricted $60,000 Bullet Stakes at Hollywood Park, run at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Their presence sets up a race within a race among the pacesetters.

Whata Soldier won his last start, an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf at Santa Anita on March 24. The victory impressed trainer James Kasparoff since it came on the outside of Whata Soldier's best distance.

Sent off at 6-1, Whata Soldier led by more than a length crossing over the dirt and held off a late run from the filly Lock and Key.

"It was a testament to his class that he won going down the hill," Kasparoff said. "They were pretty close to him when they crossed the dirt. Style-wise, he likes to be on the lead. We won't change his style much."

Slew's Prince was fourth in the Daytona Handicap on the main track on Feb. 19. He led to early stretch before finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind Siren Lure. Slew's Prince finished fourth in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt in January.

Trained by Clifford Sise, Slew's Prince won his last start on turf, an optional claimer here in November 2004. Monday, Patrick Valenzuela rides Slew's Prince.

"On the turf, he's pretty fast," Sise said. "He acts good right now. He's probably doing the best he's done since he came back this year. And, you get P Val and that's a plus."

Slew's Prince and Whata Soldier are not the only quick runners in the Bullet.

Moth Ball had the early lead in two starts in April, finishing third in an optional claimer and seventh in the San Simeon Handicap. Moth Ball may not have the speed to keep pace with Slew's Prince or Whata Soldier.

If the pace is too fast, the race could suit Golden Arrow or Taikun. Golden Arrow has not started since finishing fifth in an optional claimer on turf in January. Taikun, an Australian import, finished second in his U.S. debut on April 9.