09/08/2005 11:00PM

'Bonds' threat to pull upset in Jerome


ELMONT, N.Y. - He is not as accomplished as High Fly or Naughty New Yorker. He hasn't thrown in that freaky race as have Sir Greeley and Silver Train. But Better Than Bonds is an improving 3-year-old who could upset Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park.

is winless in four stakes tries, and comes off a decent third-place finish behind the undefeated Lost in the Fog in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

In that race, Better Than Bonds was sixth turning for home, and he bumped slightly with Santana Strings while going for a hole in upper stretch. Better Than Bonds persevered and was able to get third by a head over The Daddy while finishing 5 1/2 lengths behind Lost in the Fog.

"I thought he ran very well," trainer Robert Reinacher said. "Going in, if I was second I would been tickled to death, and with a little cleaner trip maybe he is second."

Reinacher is running Better Than Bonds back on two weeks' rest because there are limited stakes opportunities for 3-year-olds, especially in one-turn races.

"Had he not come out of the race in very good order, obviously we wouldn't do it," Reinacher said. "I think the mile is certainly within his reach."

Though won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby around two turns, arguably his best performance came in the Aventura Stakes, a one-turn mile race in January. Trainer Nick Zito gave High Fly plenty of time to recover from his 10th-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

"I told [owner] Charlotte Weber this is the race for him," Zito said.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Silver Train hit himself on both hind legs while running third in the Amsterdam at Saratoga. Silver Train returns to Belmont, where he ran six furlongs in 1:07.67 in a July allowance race. Silver Train gets in with 113 pounds, seven less than High Fly.

ran the fastest seven furlongs of the Saratoga meet when he won an allowance race by 9 1/2 lengths in 1:22.04. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Sir Greeley likes to pounce on horses quickly, and can fold when he meets resistance.

"This won't be as easy as last time," Jerkens said. "He's going to get to them and they're going to take off again. He better have a little more to offer."

Naughty New Yorker won the Mike Lee here in June and the Albany at Saratoga in August. Awesome Twist, an allowance winner at Saratoga, completes the field.