07/26/2001 12:00AM

Bond, Edwards return to scene


Last year, trainer Jim Bond and owner Jim Edwards came to Finger Lakes and won the New York Derby with Image Maker. On Saturday, they return with Mike Lee winner Solar Deputy and Personal Pro for this year's edition of the $125,000 New York Derby.

The Bond-Edwards horses will race as an entry in the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby, the second leg of the Big Apple Triple for 3-year-old New York-breds. A $250,000 bonus awaits if Solar Deputy can sweep the triple.

The Mike Lee at Belmont Park on June 30 launched the Big Apple Triple and the $150,000 Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 22 concludes the series.

Edwards almost snared the bonus last year with Image Maker, who won the first two legs before finishing fourth in the Albany.

The Bond entry's stiffest challenge likely will come from Tom's Thunder, trained by Scott Schwartz, even though he was well beaten in his last two races.

In the Mike Lee, Tom's Thunder stumbled badly and got off last in the 14-horse field, and finished 12th. In his previous start, he finished 12th in the Kingston on the turf, a surface he doesn't handle as well as dirt.

Earlier this year, Tom's Thunder, who hails from the same barn as Critical Eye, a New York-bred Grade 1 winner, won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct. During the winter, Tom's Thunder, a son of Thunder Puddles, won around two turns over Aqueduct's inner track at the New York Derby distance.

Filiberto Leon rides Tom's Thunder, who drew post 7.

Bond seeks his fourth New York Derby win with Solar Deputy and Personal Pro.

Solar Deputy has won his last three starts, including a head decision over Sweet Ricky, who is also entered here, in the seven-furlong Mike Lee.

Stretching out around two turns for the first time, Solar Deputy, who set the pace in the Mike Lee, will be ridden by Raul Rojas. He drew post 6.

Personal Pro finished fourth in the Mike Lee, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Solar Deputy. A winner at 1 1/8 miles around one turn, Personal Pro might hold an edge over Solar Deputy in getting the distance of the New York Derby.

Heberto Castillo Jr. rides Personal Pro from post 3.

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