10/18/2001 11:00PM

BC Sprint: 'Delaware' has mind of his own


ELMONT, N.Y. - If you happen to see a striking-looking chestnut horse, with splotches of white on his face, being coaxed by his exercise rider to get a move on during training hours, it's probably Delaware Township.

Forest Hills winner Delaware Township, one of the major contenders in the $1 million Sprint, has a mind of his own, according to his connections.

Peter Lacey, who has galloped the 5-year-old Delaware Township for much of this year, said he allots at least 40 minutes for getting the horse to the track and through his gallops, and then back to the barn.

"It's usually 15 to 20 minutes with other horses," Lacey said. "With him, he'll stop and then you have to coax him to go. But you end up waiting until he's ready to go. When he's ready, you need to make sure you're clear of traffic because he will begin bucking. The good thing is he doesn't rear anymore. He's five now, after all.

"He's cool because he does his own thing," Lacey, 38, added. "I just like him a lot. He's not like other horses. He's like a human."

Noel Bueno, Delaware Township's groom, said his charge reminds him of a child when he pitches a fit.

"He'll get mad, the same as a little boy," Bueno said. "You can't argue with him; you have to be very friendly. When he's mad, I walk away to let him relax."

Delaware Township's trainer, Ben Perkins Jr., said his horse's antics aren't always confined to his morning routine.

"A lot of the trouble he has in his races he has caused himself," Perkins said. "He's gotten off a bit slow, sucks himself back, checks himself, and stops. Last year in the Vosburgh, he threw his head the entire way from the paddock to the gate. That's when we took off the blinkers."

Eibar Coa, who has never had a Breeders' Cup mount, will ride Delaware Township. Coa, the leading rider at this year's Monmouth Park meet, worked the horse on several occasions for Perkins and then rode him for the first time two weeks ago in the Forest Hills,

where Delaware Township was a 3 1/4-length winner.

Perkins said he is using Coa, rather than a rider with Breeders' Cup experience, because Coa, 30, gets on well with Delaware Township.

"Coa breezed him a few times and right away, he got along with him," Perkins said. "That outweighs getting someone with a name."

Coa is in the middle of a career-best year with more than $7.7 million in purses earnings from his mounts.

Caller One blazes half-mile

Caller One had a sensational breeze Friday at Hollywood Park, the day before he was scheduled to ship to New York.

Caller One worked a blistering half-mile in 45 seconds, under jockey Corey Nakatani. Jim Chapman, the colt's trainer, said Caller One galloped out five furlongs in 58 seconds. By comparison, the next-fastest half-mile work was 48.20 seconds.

Nakatani, by phone, said he was pumped up by the work.

"He's ready to rock," Nakatani said. "He was doing it easy; he was on cruise control."

Yonaguska could draw in

City Zip's crew is leaning toward running in the Mile, which means Hook and Ladder, the first on the alternate's list, could draw into the Sprint. But Hook and Ladder's trainer, John Kimmel, said there is a chance he would skip the race, in favor of an easier spot in the $100,000 Sport Page, the same day. In that case, Yonaguska, next on the list of alternates, would gain a berth.

Kimmel said he would work Hook and Ladder this weekend and then decide if his colt will run in the Sprint.

"I'm 50-50," Kimmel said Friday. "There's no question it's a very tough spot. Everybody likes to go run in big races, but sometimes you pay the price."

Having said that, Kimmel added, "I think he's ready for a lifetime-best performance."