07/17/2003 11:00PM

Can't ignore the Dickinson factor


Ordinarily, horses moving up from a maiden win directly into a graded stakes can be safely eliminated. The fact that Kings Course is trained by Michael Dickinson, however, makes him an intriguing longshot to consider for Sunday's Grade 3, $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park

The 1 1/8-mile Kent is one of three stakes on the undercard of an 11-race program headed by the $750,000 Delaware Handicap.

The field of eight 3-year-olds for the Kent is led by Lismore Knight and Remind, who finished one-two, separated by less than a length, in last month's Grade 2 Arlington Classic.

So how can a handicapper make a case for Kings Course, a colt who has made just two lifetime starts and whose best Beyer Speed Figure of 84 is well below the recent 90-plus figures earned by the top contenders?

Simply put, never underestimate Dickinson, best known for winning the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile with Da Hoss, whose only prep for the race off a two-year layoff - after winning the Mile in 1996 - was an allowance race at Colonial Downs.

Dickinson describes Kings Course as "not a bad horse. By the end of the day he'll be a good horse. But he's in deep here. We'll be 20-1."

Bettors should be reminded that Dickinson has sent out seemingly overmatched horses who have run well in similar spots. Four years ago, for example, Courtside came off a maiden win in his career debut at Belmont Park and finished second to North East Bound in the Kent.

In 1997, Pay Zone ran third in a maiden race at Louisiana Downs and was ambitiously placed in the $100,000 El Joven at Retama Park. Pay Zone finished second at 8-1.

On paper, Lismore Knight and Remind are the obvious contenders. Lismore Knight, based in New York with Todd Pletcher, has won 4 of 6 starts on grass, posting Beyer Figures of 93 in his only two starts this year.

Remind, trained by Bill Mott, has run second in three consecutive graded stakes, including twice to Senor Swinger.

Besides Kings Course, the other viable longshot is Foufa's Warrior. He has had trouble coming out of the gate in his only two turf starts, but closed strongly to finish third in the Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill.

Cape Henlopen: Marathon on turf

Long-distance specialists Rochester and Regal Dynasty head a full field of 12 for the $100,000 Cape Henlopen over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Rochester has been competitive against graded stakes marathon runners and is 5 for 8 over Delaware's turf course, but he is winless in seven starts since winning back-to-back stakes at 12 furlongs in Kentucky last fall.

Regal Dynasty was a close third in a division of last year's split Cape Henlopen, but is unraced since earning a career-best 102 Beyer in last September's Grade 1 Man o'War.

Light Hearted: Spring Meadow tough

Spring Meadow, winner of an overnight stakes at Delaware three weeks ago, heads a group of 10 filly and mare sprinters in the Light Hearted Handicap at six furlongs.

The field also includes Haunted Lass, first or second in 7 of 8 starts at Delaware; Fuse It, making her first start on dirt since coming to Mark Hennig's barn after winning three stakes in Louisiana earlier this season; and Bruanna, a 13-time winner who was narrowly beaten by Spring Meadow last time out.