05/15/2009 11:00PM

Sprinters hard to separate


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Enforcement makes his seasonal debut in Monday's eighth race at Hastings, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for $35,000 claimers.

Trained by Juan Lara, Enforcement returned from a layoff of more than seven months in his first start of 2008 to win a first-level allowance by more than six lengths. If he runs a similar race Monday he could win what shapes up as a wide-open event.

The 6-year-old Enforcement was competitive in most of his races last year when he won 2 of 10 starts and hit the board seven times. Enforcement has good tactical speed and could be the one to catch if he breaks alertly with Pedro Alvarado.

Ookashada, trained by Toni Cloutier, is the class of the race. A 5-year-old gelding, Ookashada has won five stakes in his 25-race career for earnings of $378,362. Enforcement, at $92,430, has the second highest lifetime earnings in the field.

Ookashada, ridden by Chad Hoverson, will be running in a straight claiming race for the first time. In his first start at the meet he finished fourth in a $50,000 optional race on April 26. Ookashada has won sprinting, but he might want a bit more distance at this stage of his career. His lone win in 2008 was in a 1 1/16-mile, $50,000 optional race where he beat Enforcement by a nose.

It is a tough field to separate. Slew's Boy ran a huge race to beat Soldiers Return by three-quarters of a length in a first-level optional $25,000 claimer on May 3. He had been off since he finished fourth to Enforcement in a $35,000 optional race last October.

Soldiers Joy is as honest as they come and it looked like he was going to blow by Slew's Boy at the top of the stretch on May 3, but he couldn't sustain his bid and had to settle for second.

Till The Storm won three of his last four races in 2008 and he ran well in his 2009 debut, finishing second to Bear Den in a $25,000 optional sprint on April 18.

Good Bad N Ugly won 4 of his 10 starts last year and looked sharp in a bullet five-furlong work on May 13.