04/27/2004 11:00PM

Aegon Turf Sprint: Another stunner?


It was a year ago that Fiscally Speaking lit up the Churchill tote board with a $96.80 win mutuel in the Aegon Turf Sprint. Since then, Fiscally Speaking has run five times without a victory, meaning a repeat in the Aegon would be about as big a surprise as last year.

Meanwhile, more than a few of the 10 turf-sprint specialists who will oppose Fiscally Speaking here in the 10th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Aegon are in sharp form, and favoritism is up for grabs. Five horses return from the key prep for this race, the April 10 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland, including those who finished two-three-four-five behind victorious Soaring Free. Those horses are Chosen Chief, Banned in Boston, Cat Singer, and Day Trader, while the only other returnee from the Shakertown just happens to be Fiscally Speaking, who was eighth.

The most noteworthy new face in the race is Lydgate, a Darley Stable colt who is still eligible for first-level allowance conditions but nonetheless lured the services of local kingpin jockey Pat Day. Lydgate closed stoutly to narrowly miss in his last start, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race at Santa Anita, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 97 that would make him very competitive in this spot. Eoin Harty, a former longtime assistant to Bob Baffert, is the trainer of Lydgate.

Other starters in the five-furlong Aegon are Mighty Beau, Bayou Buster, Testify, Take Achance on Me, and Seventh Inning. Testify, now 7, won the Aegon two years ago when ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye but has lost his form in recent months, having gone nearly a year without a victory.

The Aegon is carded as the seventh of 10 Friday races and begins a pick four with a guaranteed pool of $500,000.