10/18/2002 12:00AM

BC Countdown - Juvenile: Listen Indy one colt who should like distance


As a rule, trainer Richard Mandella believes asking a 2-year-old to run nine furlongs this early in his career is a mistake. But, due to the configuration of Arlington Park, this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (and Juvenile Fillies) will be run at nine furlongs, rather than the traditional 1 1/16 miles.

And that may be a good thing for Mandella's Listen Indy, a son of A.P. Indy out of the Manila mare Escoute. Though Listen Indy will enter the Juvenile with only one win from four starts, he has improved significantly since being stretched out around two turns.

"I think it may help my horse," Mandella said of the nine furlongs. "He's a long-legged colt that seems to want to run all day. He's a pretty mature colt and he looked like he wanted to go a mile and an eighth right from the start. I'm excited about it. Whether he's good enough I'm not sure till you put the best ones together. If it was seven-eighths to a mile I wouldn't bother."

Listen Indy made his debut at Del Mar on July 27, where he closed from eighth to be second, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Vindication. Vindication has come back to win his next two starts, including the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile, and he will enter the Breeders' Cup undefeated.

In his next race, Listen Indy finished third at seven furlongs, five lengths behind Truckle Feature, a Bob Baffert-trained colt who disappointed in two subsequent stakes tries.

Listen Indy came back on Sept. 9 and, in his first start around two turns, won a mile maiden race by one length. The second- and third-place finishers from that race both came back to win their maidens next out.

Mandella stepped Listen Indy up from a maiden win to the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes. He appeared to be in good stalking position down the backstretch, but still finished third behind Kafwain and Bull Market, beaten one length under Alex Solis.

"Alex said he got lost at the quarter pole, he got confused what was going on," Mandella said. "By the time they straightened away, they were gone."

Listen Indy breezed a half-mile in 49.80 seconds on Wednesday and is scheduled to breeze again on Monday before shipping to Chicago on Tuesday. Mandella said he doesn't see a standout in the Juvenile though points out Kafwain, Sky Mesa, and Whywhywhy as the logical ones to beat.

"I think it's wide open in our minds because they're not proven enough yet," he said. "They're just babies."

Toccet works at Laurel

Toccet, the Champagne winner, worked seven furlongs in 1:27 over a wet track labeled good at Laurel Park.

"I put two horses in front of him about seven lengths," trainer John Scanlan said. "He came to them and walked away from them like they were standing still."

Scanlan said he worked Toccet seven furlongs because "it puts a lot of wind into him. That's what I did before the Champagne, so why change it?"

Scanlan said Toccet would ship to Chicago on Sunday and may blow out three furlongs on Thursday.