12/16/2010 4:37PM

Cheyann Belief's speed looks adaptable


Trainer Steve Margolis hopes Due Date can avoid the kind of traffic trouble in Saturday’s 11-horse Bonapaw Stakes that hindered him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but Margolis has less to be concerned about, trip-wise, with two other stakes horses Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Cheyann Belief looks like the favorite in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes, and has just six rivals there, while Street Storm is one of only six 2-year-old fillies in the $60,000 Letellier Stakes.

Cheyann Belief has started his career 2 for 2, scoring a half-length Churchill Downs allowance-race win after being privately purchased on the strength of a debut romp at Calder. Yet no one in his camp is entertaining anything like Derby dreams right now. Cheyann Belief is by D’Wildcat, a fast horse whose offspring trend toward speed over stamina.

“His pedigree says he’s pretty much a sprinter,” Margolis said. “We’re not trying to make him into something he’s not.”

Cheyann Belief led throughout his Calder win, but pressed the pace from an outside draw at Churchill. He is one of four potential pace players in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl, but drew favorably outside three of them.

Archarcharch finished second in his only race, but can’t be counted out of the Sugar Bowl. Debuting at Churchill, Archarcharch broke flat-footed and was bumped by a horse to his inside. Last away, he found more trouble down the backstretch, but finished strongly to get second in a 12-horse field.

“We do think a lot of him,” said trainer Jinks Fires. “His works have been outstanding, and he didn’t have the best trip the only time we ran him. He ran like a horse that had raced before, not like a first-time starter.”

The Sugar Bowl looks stronger top to bottom than the Letellier, which is why the Margolis-trained Street Storm, a Hawthorne maiden winner last out, has a chance. Street Storm debuted on Ellis Park turf and made her second start on Turfway’s Polytrack, but a switch to dirt and the addition of blinkers moved her forward in her last start.

“She ran a big race there,” said Margolis, pointing out that runner-up Reigning Cats came back to finish a solid second in a Fair Grounds maiden race last week.

Fastation, however, figures to be the favorite and horse to beat in the Letellier. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Fastation was an early developing 2-year-old, and her richest wins have come in heavily restricted stakes, but she also has open stakes victories at Zia Park and Mountaineer, and has worked steadily at Fair Grounds for her first race since Oct. 17.

Tenacious: Mad Flatter mature

A stumbling start and a heated early pace doomed Mad Flatter’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but he has found a more suitable spot Saturday in the $60,000 Tenacious.

Mad Flatter is one of seven horses in the 1 1/16-mile race, and though his front-running style might butt up against the habits of Smarten Destiny and Z Humor, Mad Flatter is more proven than those rivals in the area of setting strong fractions and finishing off two-turn dirt races. He has, in fact, done just that in several Fair Grounds starts, and Mad Flatter comes into this Fair Grounds season in better shape than a year ago, when he struggled in two early-meet starts.

“I think he’s matured,” said trainer Jeff Thornbury. “He is what he is now, and he deals with some of the issues he has.”

Thornbury said he took Mad Flatter to his farm for a brief rest the day after the Breeders’ Cup. Mad Flatter raced steadily through the fall, and worked five furlongs after shipping into Fair Grounds, and he should be set for a solid Saturday showing.

Atoned also exits a poor Breeders’ Cup performance, his in the Marathon. Atoned has finished second in five starts at the Tenacious’ one and one-sixteenth mile distance, and could show improvement.

◗ Just five horses are in the $60,000 Esplanade. Lady Alexander, a private purchase since her most recent start at Monmouth, probably will be heavily favored under Robby Albarado, but do not count out Wildcat Heiress, who has a chance to lead all the way from her rail draw.