04/28/2004 11:00PM

'Bad Boy' must avoid bounce

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Chris's Bad Boy, Woodbine's six-furlong track record holder, will clash with millionaire Mobil at seven furlongs in Saturday's $160,800 Vigil Handicap.

Chris's Bad Boy, a $47,500 claim last spring by Alpine Stable and trainer Vito Armata, takes a five-race win streak into the Grade 3 Vigil. His roll began when he captured a $32,000 starter allowance in early September, and then he doubled up in a $100,000 optional claimer on the grass.

Chris's Bad Boy took his game to another level on Nov. 9, when he earned a Beyer Figure of 112 after romping in the allowance prep for the Kennedy Road Stakes. He capped his remarkable 2003 campaign with a decisive score in the Kennedy Road, in which he got a 114 Beyer for running six furlongs in a track-record 1:08.05.

Chris's Bad Boy turned 7 this year, but his advanced age and a winter layoff didn't stop him from running another powerful race on opening day in the Jacques Cartier Stakes. He won that six-furlong sprint by four lengths over a muddy track, receiving a 99 Beyer for his performance.

Despite running back in just two weeks on Saturday, Chris's Bad Boy isn't likely to bounce, Armata said.

"The horse is in very good order right now," Armata said. "This race is coming back a little soon, and I wish I had another week, but there aren't any other spots for him right now."

Chris's Bad Boy could only manage fourth the last time he tried seven furlongs, in a grass allowance in August, but he won a seven-furlong starter allowance on the main track in July by nearly 12 lengths.

"He can go seven-eighths, no sweat," Armata said.

Mobil had an impressive campaign last year, winning 5 of 9 starts while racing in the shadow of stablemate Wando, the 2003 Canadian Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner. Mobil got the winter off, but remained in training at Palm Meadows in Florida with trainer Mike Keogh.

Keogh was thrilled with Mobil's five-furlong work in a bullet 59.60 seconds on Tuesday under assistant trainer Serge Leblanc.

"He worked really well," Keogh said. "He filled out over the winter, and is much stronger than he was."

Even though Mobil is unbeaten in two starts at seven furlongs, Keogh believes that distance is shorter than what the colt prefers. "It's not his best trip, but he can get it done," Keogh said.

Rounding out the Vigil lineup are Anglian Prince, Merlin's Moon, and Awesome Action.