06/05/2003 12:00AM

Can Posse overtake Midas Eyes late?


ELMONT, N.Y. - It will be the blazing speed of Midas Eyes versus the powerful closing kick of Posse in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park.

Midas Eyes, purchased by Bobby Frankel for Edmund Gann last fall, is 2 for 2 this year with powerful victories in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Derby Trial. In the Swale, his first start off a seven-month layoff, Midas Eyes defeated Posse by 9 1/4 lengths while running seven furlongs in 1:21.06. The Riva Ridge is also run at seven furlongs.

In the Derby Trial, at one mile, Midas Eyes made an easy lead and though his jockey, Jerry Bailey, didn't believe he handled the Churchill surface that well, Midas Eyes still won by a handy 2 1/4 lengths.

"I don't think he got across the surface like he did at Gulfstream," Bailey said.

According to Frankel, Midas Eyes got a little sick when he first arrived in New York from Kentucky. Frankel said Midas Eyes needed a strong workout last Sunday in order to make the race and he got it as Midas Eyes, under Bailey, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80.

"He worked excellent," Bailey said. "If he's not on the lead, he won't be far off it."

Midas Eyes, who drew post 3, may have to deal with some early pressure from the horse directly inside of him, Bishop Court Hill. In his last start, Bishop Court Hill broke slowly, but was soon up on the pace in winning an entry-level allowance race.

If a duel develops, Posse could be the right closer. Posse, a son of Silver Deputy, is 3 for 4 this year, his only loss coming in the Swale. Since then, Posse has reeled off victories in the seven-furlong, Grade 3 Lafayette at Keeneland and the six-furlong, ungraded Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.

"I really feel seven-eighths is the distance that suits him extremely well," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "The Lafayette was a very impressive race visually. He looked very comfortable in the [Lafayette], and stressed trying to get up in time going three quarters. The difference in the horse is he has relaxed where he was running himself into the ground last year."

Halo Homewrecker, the Grade 3 Bay Shore winner, has shown speed, but his recent workouts indicate that trainer Mark Hennig may be trying to harness that early foot. Hennig won this race last year with Gygistar.