07/12/2006 11:00PM

Alone on the lead once again

Lone Star Park
If Kip Deville can relax enough to set more reasonable fractions than he did in the Colonial Turf Cup, he will be hard to catch in the Virginia Derby.

Three weeks ago, Showing Up was the star of Colonial Downs, drawing away to a powerful 3 3/4-length victory in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup in course-record time. On Saturday at Colonial, Showing Up will be resting in his stall at Belmont Park, and Colonial will be looking for a new star in its signature race, the Grade 2, $1 million Virginia Derby at 1 1/4 miles on the turf.

Bettors may need to look no further than the Turf Cup's second-place finisher, the front-running Kip Deville, who is coming into the paceless Virginia Derby with a new jockey and a new strategy.

rocketed to a 15-length lead in the 14-horse Turf Cup, only to be caught in deep stretch by Showing Up. Though trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said that Kip Deville's second-place finish "proved what kind of horse he is," Dutrow called Quincy Hamilton's ride "ridiculous" and has replaced the jockey with Rafael Bejarano, who is fourth in the nation in wins.

"I don't know what would have been wrong with letting the horse take the lead and relax," Dutrow said Thursday. "Let me put it this way: If the horse had won doing what he did, I still would have replaced [Hamilton]. If the horse got to the lead and relaxed, two or three lengths ahead, and finished second, [Hamilton] would probably still be on him."

Kip Deville will face 11 other horses in the Virginia Derby, and none, on paper, has the speed to go with him early. The extra sixteenth of a mile in the derby does not have the trainer worried.

"It looks like we're supposed to be alone on the lead, relaxed and comfortable," Dutrow said. "Against these horses, I'm not that worried about" the extra distance.

Among Kip Deville's challengers will be the third-place finisher in the Turf Cup, , a promising German-bred horse who missed by a nose in his last start, the Grade 3 Arlington Classic on July 1 at Arlington Park.

, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby and the fourth-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, was entered in the Virginia Derby but will not be making the trip from New York after spiking a fever, according to his trainer, Dan Peitz.

Virginia Oaks wide open

A trio of well-matched shippers will vie for favoritism in the $200,000 Virginia Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Any one of three fillies - Aunt Henny, Fiery Dancer, or May Night - could be favored in the 12-horse Oaks, which will be run as the lead-up to the Virginia Derby.

Aunt Henny, who is based in Maryland, blossomed into a formidable 3-year-old grass filly early this year after being switched to the turf in Florida by trainer Michael Matz. Aunt Henny won the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 19 at Gulfstream in her most recent start. She tracked a moderate pace and just held off the second-place finisher in a five-horse field. Aunt Henny will be ridden by Bejarano.

Fiery Dancer and May Night have spent the spring and early summer knocking heads with each other in three straight races at Churchill Downs.

- additional reporting by David Grening