05/10/2002 12:00AM

Speedster's potential gets tested


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Is Lord Shogun going to be one of the leaders of the 3-year-old division at Hastings Park, or is he just another horse with a lot of speed who looked impressive beating an unproven group of maidens in his last start as a 2-year-old? The answer may come Sunday when Lord Shogun squares off against eight other 3-year-olds in a $50,000 optional race at 6 1/2 furlongs.

One of the clues as to where Lord Shogun is headed could be in the company line of his last race. The horse he beat by 6 3/4 lengths, the filly Elana D'Amour, is now a stakes winner.

But Lord Shogun never faced any heat up front on his way to his facile maiden win. That scenario is not likely to occur Sunday, as Colondelivery and Crimson Mint can go with Lord Shogun early if their riders so choose.

"He's really matured over the winter," said Rob VanOverschot of Lord Shogun. VanOverschot is off to the best start of his career and leads the trainer standings with five wins. "He's always had a lot of talent but he really had no clue as a 2-year-old. He's much more relaxed now and he's also very fit. I would have run him long if there was a race for him."

David Wilson rides Lord Shogun Sunday.

While Lord Shogun figures to be on or near the lead early, Count Katahaula will likely make his move late. He came from well back to beat Lord Shogun in a maiden special weight race last September and closed with a rush to win a $50,000 optional race April 28.

Frank Fuentes rides Count Katahaula.