03/23/2010 12:00AM

Afleet Deceit has trainer thinking big


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - It is simple to build a case on paper for Afleet Deceit in Thursday's ninth race at Oaklawn Park. And in the flesh, things are going the filly's way, too, according trainer Scott Becker.

"She's probably sitting on her best race [of the meet] right now," Becker said. "I wish it was a stakes."

Afleet Deceit on Thursday goes in a third-level allowance for fillies and mares that carries a $65,000 claiming option. She is part of a five-horse field along with Oaklawn stakes winner French Kiss and the multiple stakes-placed Tammy's Victress.

Afleet Deceit established her class last year at Oaklawn, when twice she ran second to the eventual Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in stakes. The first was in the $50,000 Martha Washington in February, and the second came in the Grade 2 Fantasy in April. This meet, Afleet Deceit has run twice, with her first effort being a fifth-place finish as one of the top choices in the $75,000 Pippin on Jan. 23.

"We had a tying-up issue with her before the race," Becker said. "She ended up not being 100 percent. You think everything seems right enough [to run] at the time, but it wasn't the right decision. It was a bad decision on my part."

Tying up is a common but complex ailment that is something of a malfunction of a horse's body chemistry. It's an inability for them to breakdown and cast off exercise-induced toxins, a situation that can be brought on by nervous anticipation. For some horses, tying up can be an isolated case, while others regularly experience what is called tying-up syndrome.

Becker decided to back off Afleet Deceit after the Pippin, and he waited six weeks before running her in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri here March 6. The result was a big third at 33-1. For the effort, Afleet Deceit earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 88, which is the best last-race number in the field Thursday. She has since turned in a strong work, Becker said. Afleet Deceit will break from post 5, under regular rider Chris Emigh.

"I look for her to be near the pace," Becker said. "She has natural, tactical speed."

Becker said the allowance is expected to serve as Afleet Deceit's springboard to the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne on April 17.

The chief threat Thursday could be Tammy's Victress, with Abel Castellano Jr. to ride for trainer Cindy Jones.