07/20/2007 11:00PM

After Market will go it alone in Read

Alex Evers/Horsephotos
After Market, with Alex Solis, won?t have his rabbit to set him up in Sunday?s Eddie Read.

DEL MAR, Calif. - After Market does not need help from a rabbit; Out of Control does not require a 10-pound weight break.

So goes the company line Sunday at Del Mar, where two of the top turf horses on the West Coast race 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap.

Six entered, but the expected scratch of front-runner Valiant Effort means only five will start in the $400,000 race. It also levels the playing field.

Valiant Effort did all the dirty work last month in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park. Entered solely as a pacemaker, he carved suicidal splits to set it up for After Market. Marty and Pam Wygod own both horses.

The strategy worked. After Market blew past Lava Man and won the race by 1 3/4 lengths. So does After Market really need a rabbit?

"I don't think so," trainer John Shirreffs said. "He's a stalker, he's not like a horse that comes from way out of it."

He has burst to prominence at age 4, after a respectable 3-year-old campaign in which he won 3 of 4, including two stakes. After Market was transferred early this year from trainer Bill Mott in the East to Shirreffs in the West. He has blossomed.

"He has matured, and gotten into a nice, steady pattern of races," Shirreffs said.

While a win in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap in April was nice, After Market established himself as the real deal in the Whittingham.

"We knew going into the race he was in really good shape, but going against Lava Man is always tough," Shirreffs said.

Asked about After Market's current condition, Shirreffs simply stated, "Perfect."

Alex Solis rides After Market, who picks up two pounds for the Read. The field includes Fast and Furious, Rob Roy, and Atlando. Trainer Cliff Sise said Valiant Effort would scratch.

The sharpest horse in the field is the Bobby Frankel-trained Out of Control, who carried 113 pounds to The Tin Man's 123 last out in the Grade 2 American Handicap.

"He got 10 pounds, I know that," Frankel's top assistant, Humberto Ascanio, said. "But to beat The Tin Man is an honor, and it was an unbelievable race."

No kidding. Out of Control got rank early and was parked four wide on the first turn. It did not get much better the rest of the way. Out of Control stayed three wide throughout, hooked The Tin Man into the lane, and outran that rival late to win by a head.

An import from Brazil owned by TNT Stud, Out of Control has won 4 of 8 starts. Michael Baze rides the improving Out of Control, whose late foaling date (October) means he has plenty room to mature and improve.

"Now it's up to Michael," Ascanio said. "He knows the horse."

Out of Control picks up two pounds, but still has a five-pound weight break - After Market carries 120, Out of Control carries 115.

The Tin Man passed on the Read to prepare for the Arlington Million on Aug. 11; After Market also is being considered for the Million.

And so is Rob Roy, a Group 2 winner in Europe who has not run since Nov. 24.

"His goal is the Arlington Million; he might be a bit rusty," trainer Neil Drysdale said.

Owned by Philip Newton, Rob Roy has won 3 of 13. Asked what type performance it would take by Rob Roy to earn a trip to Chicago, Drysdale said, "We'd like to see him run in the frame."

Atlando bled finishing sixth in his most recent start, Feb. 25 in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap. Trainer Darrell Vienna freshened the 6-year-old marathon runner afterward.

At 1 1/8 miles, the Read "might be a little short," Vienna admitted.

"He's probably not set for his best, but he'll run okay," Vienna said.

Fast and Furious finished third in the Grade 2 American Handicap last time out. He has not finished in the money in four starts on the Del Mar turf.