Updated on 09/15/2011 1:38PM

Axthelm: A bettor's delight

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MIAMI - Nobody would have loved the way the starting lineup for Saturday's $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes shapes up more than Axthelm himself. It is a full and evenly matched field of 12 3-year-old colts and geldings going 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass, with the potential for the tote board lighting up like a Christmas tree when the race is official.

Saturday is the ninth running of the Axthelm, named after the deceased award-winning writer, broadcaster, and avid racing supporter who spent many an afternoon at Calder looking to bet on a wide-open race such as the one that honors his memory. The Axthelm shares top billing Saturday with the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap for older fillies and mares.

A pair of Calder-based 3-year-olds, T V Sports Director and Tour of the Cat, may vie for favoritism in the Axthelm, along with New Jersey invader One Eyed Joker.

T V Sports Director has been the leader of the local division since early summer, after winning the Roman Brother and Needles Stakes. Tour of the Cat put in a late-season bid for leader of the division by turning the tables on T V Sports Director with a half-length victory in The Vid Stakes on Nov. 24.

One Eyed Joker began his long and productive campaign here on New Year's Day finishing a tiring sixth in the Tropical Derby. But he has gone on to win a pair of stakes, including The Meadowlands' Rushing Man in his most recent start. Trained by Bill Perry, One Eyed Joker drew post position 1, and will be ridden for the first time by Eibar Coa.

"His best races have been going longer, but he's got enough speed to stay close and acceleration where he should be kicking in pretty good at the end," said Perry. "Naturally the big field concerns me because with his style you always worry about traffic."

Trainer Bill Mott and George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable will be represented by Boastful, an improving son of Cozzene who had a three-race win streak snapped when he ran second in his local debut against older allowance horses last month.

Szep finished a late-running second behind One Eyed Joker in Monmouth's Choice Stakes and enters the Axthelm off an allowance win against older horses at Keeneland.

Junior Deputy, who will carry Axthelm's gold-and-purple silks, won the Prairie Mile Stakes in May, but has been idle since finishing sixth in Monmouth's Long Branch on July 15.

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