05/05/2003 11:00PM

Victor Slew eyes comfy pace setup

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AUBURN, Wash. - If Tickletime and Alferrari set the table, will Victor Slew eat their lunch?

That is a key question facing handicappers in Thursday's feature race at Emerald Downs, a six-furlong sprint that has drawn a field of six $25,000 4-year-olds who have not beaten winners twice.

Tickletime and Alferrari are the apparent speed of the race, and the two appear destined to battle for the early lead. Tickletime and Alferrari, both two-time winners, have run their best races on the lead, and both come into Thursday's feature as fresh horses who have posted near-bullet five-furlong drills in their most recent workouts. They occupy the two outside posts, with Tickletime drawn just inside of Alferrari, and if both break alertly they seem likely to remain side by side through quick early fractions.

That scenario would likely benefit Victor Slew, a former speed horse who began coming from well off the pace toward the end of his 3-year-old campaign. In his last two races at 3, Victor Slew closed from sixth to second, sprinting at the $20,000 level on Aug. 15, and then came from 10 lengths back in an impressive 5 1/2-length win over $16,000 claimers in 1:09.20 for six furlongs on Aug. 29.

Victor Slew made his 4-year-old debut against open $25,000 claimers here on April 26 and reverted to his old ways, contesting the pace through a half-mile in 44.20 seconds before tiring to finish sixth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths in 1:08.80 for six furlongs. Victor Slew figures to rate behind the two speedsters, and could find them starting to tire just as he begins to make his move. With a race under his girth, Victor Slew could prove very difficult to stave off.