10/09/2008 12:00AM

Bunker Hill favored in Dover for 3rd straight stakes win


It's hard to imagine that even an elementary school student would stumble if asked to spell "Bunker Hill." Yet trainer Derek Ryan is thankful one of his colleagues fouled up the spelling when filling out a claiming slip at Monmouth Park two months ago.

Given a reprieve because of a technicality, Ryan and Flying Dutchman Stable retained possession of the 2-year-old colt Bunker Hill, who goes for his fourth consecutive victory and third straight stakes in Saturday's $75,000 Dover at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Dover, which produced four Kentucky Derby winners between 1950 and 1978, drew a field of seven and goes as race 7 on a nine-race card.

Ryan said he took what he felt was a low risk when he entered Bunker Hill, a homebred son of Trippi out of the High Yield mare Never Yield, for a $50,000 tag in a five-furlong sprint at Monmouth Park. The race was intended as a prep for the Continental Mile.

"I had him ready to go long, but I wanted to break his maiden to get him ready for the stake at Monmouth Park," Ryan said. "So I said, 'Let's run him for the $50,000 tag and nobody will claim him.' He doesn't have a whole lot of pedigree.

"Someone did put a claim slip in for him, but we were very lucky - the claim was voided because of a misspelling."

Bunker Hill has shown a strong will to win, taking the Continental Mile at Monmouth by a nose and the Go for the Green Juvenile at Delaware by a head. Both were two-turn races moved from the turf to the main track.

"If you are going to beat him, you better open a length on him when you are turning home because if you are only going to get a neck clear of him, he is going to battle back," Ryan said. "He has a lot of heart and he will wear you down if you go head and head with him. I wish I had more horses with a heart like his."

Aspiring Nick, who finished two lengths behind Bunker Hill in the Contintental Mile and was beaten a head as the 2-1 favorite in the Go for the Green, is back to try Bunker Hill for a third time. The favorite's stiffest challenge, however, may come from a pair of stretch-out sprinters, Ask Joe and Count on Lou.

Ask Joe came from off the pace to win his career debut by nearly three lengths with a 72 Beyer Speed Figure - five points faster than Bunker Hill has ever run.

Trainer Steve Klesaris shows a 4-for-12 record with his 2-year-olds going from a sprint to a route in their second career start, according to DRF's Formulator.

Count on Lou won his maiden by 15 lengths in his only previous try beyond six furlongs. Although that was a slowly run race, Count on Lou improved dramatically on Sept. 16 when he returned from a break of six weeks to finish second in a first-level allowance sprint with a 75 Beyer.