10/05/2001 12:00AM

Chance for Delaware Township


ELMONT, N.Y. - If not for his affinity for Belmont Park, Delaware Township might not even be considered for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint. But since he does some of his best work over the spacious Belmont oval, Delaware Township will try to strengthen his Breeders' Cup credentials Sunday when he heads a short field in the $250,000 Forest Hills Handicap at six furlongs.

"If the Breeders' Cup wasn't here we probably wouldn't be pointing for it," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "He comes from back, he's been in traffic a lot of times in his races. The big, wide turns here give him a little more space to spread out."

Delaware Township is 2 for 3 at Belmont including a victory in the Grade 2 Forest Hills last year. Saturday, he'll take on several rivals who are looking to prove they belong in the $1 million Sprint on Oct. 27 rather than the $100,000 Sport Page Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

Among them are the speedy Disco Rico, the returning Peeping Tom, Hook and Ladder, and the 3-year-old Yonaguska. City Zip was also entered, but was expected to run Saturday in either the Kelso at Belmont or the Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

His victory in the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga last month moved Delaware Township up the ranks of a suspect group of East Coast sprinters. That win was validated when Left Bank, the Forego runner-up, came back to win the Grade 1 Vosburgh.

With jockey Jerry Bailey at Keeneland Sunday, Eibar Coa has picked up the mount on Delaware Township, the 118-pound co-highweight.

Disco Rico, who drew the outside post, is the one to catch in the Forest Hills. On Sept. 7, Disco Rico was upset as the odds-on favorite in the Paterson Handicap at The Meadowlands where he had a reaction to a Lasix shot. Before that, Disco Rico had won three straight, including the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap on Preakness Day.

"At The Meadowlands I kept waiting for him to shift into second gear up the stretch," trainer Valora Testerman said. "I think we'll have that second gear to shift into that we had in the Maryland race which was so impressive."

Trainer John Kimmel would like to see Hook and Ladder rate, but those plans might change considering Hook and Ladder drew the rail.

Peeping Tom makes his first start since July 4, but trainer Pat Reynolds believes he's ready to fire a big shot. If he returns to his winter/spring form, he should be a late factor under Shaun Bridgmohan.

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