07/26/2008 11:00PM

Barbecue Eddie set to speed away


DEL MAR, Calif. - Street Boss and In Summation face compromising circumstances Sunday at Del Mar, where the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap figures to be won the way a six-furlong stakes should be won - by a speedball ramming it down his rivals' throats.

Barbecue Eddie "is very quick," his jockey Aaron Gryder said. No kidding. And if the Bing Crosby unfolds as expected, he can seize command at the start and run his rivals into the ground. If someone tries to get cute and tackle Barbecue Eddie early, well, good luck.

"He can take pretty good pressure and keep on running," said Gryder, and he would know. Gryder is the only jockey that has ridden Barbecue Eddie, a 4-year-old gelding with three wins and earnings of $310,950 from 10 starts for trainer Brian Koriner. Although he has never won a stakes race (six tries), nor defeated In Summation (two tries), both should happen Sunday.

Synthetic specialist In Summation won the Bing Crosby last year and three other stakes on artificial surfaces. However, the Christophe Clement-trained 5-year-old has not raced since April and might need a start.

"We're expecting a good race from him, but he's shown he is better in a rhythm of races," assistant trainer Nicholas Bachalard said.

If three months between starts is too long for In Summation, three weeks between starts might be too little for Street Boss. He took over the leadership of the California sprint division this summer at Hollywood Park, winning two graded stakes, including the Grade 1, seven-furlong Triple Bend Handicap. That race was practically yesterday, on July 5.

"I came here with the fittest horse," Street Boss's trainer Bruce Headley said.

Street Boss also might be the best horse. He has won 6 of 10 and 5 of his last 6. However, he is stuck on the rail with a closing style that would be futile unless the pacesetter stops.

Nine entered the $300,000 Bing Crosby, which will sort out the West Coast division two months ahead of the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The field includes Malibu Stakes winner Johnny Eves, who is racing for the first time in three months and prepping for the BC Dirt Mile, and the presser Silver Stetson Man.

Grade 1 winners Street Boss and In Summation are the 121-pound topweights and both already have stamped their BC Sprint credentials. The Bing Crosby is not a must-win race for either. Their potential vulnerability represents a prime opportunity for Barbecue Eddie, who carries five pounds fewer than the favorites and enters with a significant early-pace advantage.

Barbecue Eddie finished second to In Summation in successive stakes in January. That was then.

"He's gotten better in the last six months," Gryder said.

Barbecue Eddie finished a creditable fourth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai, then returned three months later on June 28 to wire a second-level allowance field at Hollywood Park. Since then, he has trained super at Del Mar.

Although all three Bing Crosby principals won Del Mar races last summer on Polytrack, none were as dominant as Barbecue Eddie, whose maiden and allowance victories were by margins of more than four lengths each.

"He loved this track last year; he was one of the few last year that were visually impressive," Gryder said.

The track this summer is quicker than last year, when In Summation needed 1:11.06 to win the six-furlong Bing Crosby. Based on the first week of racing, this year's stakes figures to be run somewhere between 1:08.60 and 1:09.

"The track is tighter, and I think that will only help" Barbecue Eddie, Gryder said.

The high-figure horse in the field is Spot the Diplomat, who earned a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure winning a $40,000 claiming race July 4 in his first start since being claimed by Peter Miller.

"If he runs back to his last number, he fits," Miller said. "If he bounces, we're in deep trouble."

Miller credits Spot the Diplomat's sudden improvement to working on dirt at the San Luis Rey Downs training center. Spot the Diplomat gets in with 110 pounds; Miller said Friday he was not certain if the gelding would start in the Grade 1 or look for an easier spot.