05/28/2003 11:00PM

Strategic questions for Five Point Star


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - There is what looks like an overload of speed in Saturday's Klondike Stakes, with Five Point Star, Roscoe Pita, and Gamblin Caper in the 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Five Point Star and Roscoe Pita will be making just their third start in the Klondike. Gamblin Caper is the most seasoned horse in the field, having run 11 times, and is entering the Klondike with two straight wins.

Gamblin Caper appears to be a confirmed front runner - he has never passed a horse in a race - and his trainer, Terry Jordan, isn't about to change his runner's style for the Klondike.

Five Point Star, who set quick fractions and then held on well to finish a half-length behind Illusive Force in the City of Vancouver Stakes May 10, may be more versatile. His owner-trainer, Bruce Unwin, has been trying to get Five Point Star to relax in the mornings and that could pay dividends as the summer wears on.

"He's still very green and is just learning how to run," Unwin said. "That was a big race he ran the first time out this year and he came back great. He learned a lot from the race and I really liked the way he worked in front of the crowd last Saturday."

Five Point Star may have no choice but to try for the lead in the Klondike. He drew the rail and it's not easy to give up that spot on the tight Hastings oval, especially with an aggressive Pedro Alvarado riding.

"I'll leave it in Pedro's hands," Unwin said. "He can go if he has to, but if they want to dangle out front it would be nice to see him settle just off of it. We've been working in that direction, but he's still a project and we'll just have to see how it goes."

Unwin took out his trainer's license in 1984 and since then has "been grinding it out" by his own admission. He has had a few decent horses, but no stakes winners. He's hopeful Five Point Star can change that.

Diglett back on best form

What a difference a year makes. Diglett, who was one of the top 3-year-olds in the Pacific Northwest in 2001, went winless last year. He started out this year with a good race in the Seattle Handicap at Emerald Downs. He broke slowly but made a big move to finish a fast-closing fourth. He came back to win the George Royal Stakes May 10. It was his first victory since he won the Washington Owners Breeders' Cup by 6 1/4 lengths at Emerald Aug. 12, 2001.

On Saturday, Diglett runs in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Sprint.

His trainer, Gary Demorest, gives credit to maturity for Diglett's turnaround.

"He just didn't like being a 4-year-old," Demorest said. "He didn't run that badly early in the year, with a couple of seconds to Kid Katabatic, but he tailed off after that."

Demorest also said that taking a chip out of Diglett's ankle following the 2002 season helped.

"It didn't really bother him until the end of the year and he's trained well all spring," he said.

Demorest is looking at the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Downs Handicap June 15 if Diglett runs well Saturday.

"I think his best race is going a mile around two turns," Demorest said. "His best race ever was at Emerald in the Derby Trial, and the mile is a perfect distance for him."

* Last Monday, Surrey City Council approved the addition of 300 slot machines to augment harness racing at Fraser Downs, which is located in Cloverdale, a suburb of Vancouver.

Hastings Entertainment is awaiting a Vancouver City Council meeting that will deal with the slot machine issue at Hastings. It's reportedly set for July 8.