EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Marcel Barrieau knew Almahurst Cruiser was something special even before someone walked up to him last week with checkbook in hand and offered to buy the colt for a lot of money.

Barrieau didn't sell then and it's doubtful he'll do it in the near future.

Horses like Almahurst Cruiser are rare and Barrieau is going to try to continue enjoying this one, resuming Saturday night when the son of Laag takes on nine rivals in the $303,250 Berry's Creek at the Meadowlands.

The winner of 15 of 17 career starts, Almahurst Cruiser will be seeking his 11th straight win. The 10th straight didn't come easy as Barrieau, who owns, trains and drives the colt, guided him to a neck victory in 1:52.4 in one of the eliminations for the Berry's Creek.

``I don't know the gentleman, but I was approached in the winner's circle by a man who wanted me to put a price on him,'' Barrieau said. ``I said there was no price, that I have no intention of selling.

``I've been in this game all of my life and dreamed of having a horse like him,'' added the 49-year-old, who is the youngest of 16 children. ``I've envied other trainers with good horses. I know there is a risk, but everything is a risk. This game has been good to me.''

Almahurst Cruiser is the perfect example. Barrieau spent $5,000 to buy him as a yearling and so far he's earned $100,731.

The colt, who had his first 15 races at Blue Bonnets in Montreal, came here two weeks ago and has adjusted just fine, although he was put to a test by Paradise Indian in last week's eliminations.

``He showed he's a top caliber horse when he was able to handle Paradise Indian's challenge,'' Barrieau said. ``I thought then he was all right. I won't say he could have gone faster, but I knew he wouldn't let the other horse go by him.''

Cruiser Almahurst has been made the 3-5 favorite in the field despite drawing the No. 8 post.

Paradise Indian, who is winless in four starts this year, has been made the 5-1 second choice. All Star Hanna, the winner of the other elimination in 1:54, is the 6-1 third choice.

The other factor to be considered in this race is driver John Campbell, who will be seeking his fourth straight win in the Berry's Creek.

Campbell has elected to drive Jaguar Cam despite drawing the No. 10 post. He also drove Oye Vay in the eliminations. Both are part of a 12-1 entry from the Bill Robinson Stable.

``I was a little disappointed with Jaguar Cam in the elims, but it turned out he was sick,'' said Campbell, harness racing's all-time leading money winner in purses won. ``If he gets over it, I think he'll be the better of those two colts (Oye Vay and Jaguar Cam) this week. Almahurst Cruiser looks to be the toughest horse in the final.''

Magic Shoes, the other part of the Robinson entry, drew the No. 1 post. Peter Wrenn, who guided the colt to a fifth-place finish in the slower elimination, is in the bike.

The rest of the field in post position order with horse, driver and odds is:

Paradise Indian, Catello Manzi, 5-1; All Star Hanna, Mike Lachance, 6-1; Oye Vay, Ron Waples, 12-1; Hot Lead, George Brennan, 12-1; Bingo Hanover, Ray Schnittker, 8-1; Pacific Missile, Jack Moiseyev, 25-1; Almahurst Cruiser, Barrieau, 3-5; Holy Cow Scooter, Ron Pierce, 40-1, and Jaguar Cam, Campbell, 12-1.

Campbell won the last three Berry's Creek races with Vine Street ('93), Cam's Card Shark ('94) and No Standing Around ('95).

Post time is expected around 9:35 p.m. EDT.