06/07/2006 11:00PM

Cherokee's Boy aims for Brandywine repeat


Cherokee's Boy can achieve millionaire status even if he doesn't repeat last year's victory in the Brandywine Stakes at Delaware Park.

The 6-year-old needs to finish third or better in Saturday's $100,000 stakes at 1 1/16 miles to surpass the million-dollar milestone in career earnings.

A Maryland-bred based at the Bowie Training Center with trainer Gary Capuano, Cherokee's Boy wired six rivals in last year's Brandywine, the first of five stakes victories during 2005, which was highlighted by a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park.

In his first start since December, Cherokee's Boy tuned up for the Brandywine by easily winning a seven-furlong allowance race at Charles Town three weeks ago.

With 17 wins in 41 starts and earnings of $991,486, Cherokee's Boy ranks 16th among Maryland-breds, a list led by Cigar.

The main obstacles in Cherokee's Boy's path to a second straight win in the Brandywine are a couple of New York shippers, Happy Hunting and Bailero.

, trained by Shug McGaughey, won the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap over the inner track in January. He has lost his last three starts, but two were contested over sloppy tracks and in the other, the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap at Belmont, he actually improved upon his Beyer Speed Figure from the Aqueduct Handicap while finishing third.

, a 7-year-old Argentine-bred trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., has been favored in his last four starts, but has only one win during that span. Two races ago, Bailero finished second after being brushed at the start of an overnight stakes at Delaware.

Tour of the Cat could be a live longshot. An 8-year-old gelding, Tour of the Cat is 12 for 45, including a 3-for-5 record at the distance. His trainer, Maria Pascual, shows 28 percent success the past two seasons with horses stretching out from sprints to routes.

Pimlico: Trickle of Gold formidable

Trickle of Gold, one of the East Coast's top female sprinters, will be a solid favorite to win her third straight start in the $75,000 Skipat for filly and mare sprinters on closing day at Pimlico.

The 4-year-old Trickle of Gold, based at Delaware with trainer Mike Gorham, set a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs there a month ago and came back two weeks later to capture the six-furlong Sweet 'n Sassy Stakes.

The six-furlong distance of the Skipat is ideal for Trickle of Gold, who is 7 for 9 in sprints of similar length.

Contrast and Career Oriented, both exiting the 5 1/2-furlong Red Cross at Monmouth, are capable if Trickle of Gold runs something less than her best race.

The lightly raced Contrast is 3 for 4, including a 1 3/4-length score as the even-money favorite in the Red Cross.

Career Oriented, a stakes winner at Monmouth last summer, had some brief trouble at the start of the Red Cross, and is eligible to improve making her second start since last fall.

Mountaineer: Ask the Lord vulnerable

The old-timer Ask the Lord will attempt to turn back the clock when he ships in from Kentucky for the $75,000 Slipton Fell Handicap at Mountaineer.

Now 9, Ask the Lord won the 2004 edition of the mile and 70-yard Slipton Fell by a length with a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He has lost 11 stakes races since then, however, and his Beyers have declined by roughly 20 points in two starts since he finished a close second in the Tejano Run at Turfway Park in March.

Summer Book, third at 26-1 in the Grade 3 National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne two starts ago, and Seek Gold, one of two horses in the field previously trained by Nick Zito, both fit well in this spot.

Summer Book, trained by Niall O'Callaghan, most recently raced up close until the late stages of the 1 1/8-mile Schaefer Handicap, a Grade 3 race at Pimlico.

Seek Gold and stablemate Go Now will be making their first start since they were sold and transferred to the barn of Ron Moquett.

The 6-year-old Seek Gold won the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder last December. In March, he finished second, 11 1/4 lengths in front of Summer Book, in the Challenger at Tampa Bay.

Charles Town: Someone else's turn

Barring a slew of scratches, a trainer other than Scott Lake will win a stakes at Charles Town.

Lake has swept all five stakes run this season at the West Virginia oval and has Morine's Victory entered for this weekend's $50,000 Cortan at seven furlongs. Morine's Victory is stuck on the also-eligible list, along with two-time West Virginia Breeders Classic winner Confucius Say. To run, Lake's horse would need at least three horses to scratch to get into the 10-horse field.

The deep closer Vanna's Honeybear and Unison Moon come into the Cortan in sharp form.

Vanna's Honeybear, making his first start in nearly three months, came from 10 lengths back to finish second to multiple stakes winner Cherokee's Boy three weeks ago. He shows strong Beyers of 96 and 99 in his last two races, both at seven furlongs.

Unison Moon has had nearly a month to recover from a nose victory going 6 1/2 furlongs in which he earned a career-best 97 Beyer.

Other contenders include Donald's Pride, a stakes winner going 1 1/8 miles last summer who is 5 for 8 in sprints of similar length to the Cortan, and North Broad, a consistent performer at the distance who prepped for his first start since November by working four furlongs from the gate in 47.80 seconds on Wednesday.