04/29/2008 12:00AM

Beyers may not be the key in sprint


ELMONT, N.Y. - Take the three horses with Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or better, and throw them out.

Such tactics aren't normally recommended but might be the right approach for Thursday's eighth race at Belmont Park, a six-furlong optional claimer on the main track.

The elder statesman is My Cousin Matt, a 9-year-old multiple stakes winner with a 114 Beyer top, who makes his 58th career start and first start for Bruce Levine. Though he surpassed $1 million in earnings during the winter, he hasn't cracked a 90 Beyer since 2005.

Indian Hawke returns from a two-month freshening off a claim by David Jacobson. He began his last two form cycles with victories - with Beyers of 105 and 101 - but he has been a router all his life and developed into a bad actor at the gate last winter.

Blue Bullet's figure of 100 at Saratoga last summer seems like ancient history, because he has finished last in both starts since returning as a 4-year-old.

Good luck separating the remaining five: El Bandido Rojo, Kaper Lake, Starforaday, and the Rick Dutrow-trained entry of Strummer and Unrequited all have Beyer tops in the low 90s.

El Bandido Rojo was the pace-call leader in eight straight Florida starts and just missed with a stalk-and-pounce trip at Aqueduct for new trainer Bruce Brown.

"I thought he had that one, and I actually think that race tightened him up," Brown said. "In Florida, they kept trying him at a mile, but his best race is sitting off a fast pace going short."

Kaper Lake won the fastest maiden claiming race in New York last year, when he sped six furlongs in 1:09 to win a $50,000 sprint at Belmont under Channing Hill. He proved it wasn't a fluke by winning an allowance race at Aqueduct next out and has been freshened up by trainer Dan Peitz after two eventful outings at Oaklawn Park.

"He broke slow, kind of got rushed up, and didn't really finish the first time," Peitz said. "When I ran him back, I didn't think I got a great ride; for some reason the jock chose to run him up between horses into a three-way duel. Even through all that, I don't think he was crazy about the racetrack."

Kaper Lake gets a switch back to Hill and makes his first start in two months.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he runs okay," said Peitz, "but I don't have a great feel for just where I'm at with him at this point."