06/10/2010 12:00AM

Colizeo comes into Northern Dancer off key race


Garrett Gomez rides a major contender in Colizeo in the $125,000 Northern Dancer (race 8), which, as a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds, is the main-track counterpart to the Jefferson Cup on Saturday's card at Churchill Downs.

Colizeo, trained by Todd Pletcher, was a front-running winner of what has become a key first-level allowance route run here May 9. He finished 1 1/4 lengths clear of Prince Will I Am, who wheels back as a potential stretch factor in the Northern Dancer.

"Everything about him is easy," Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy said of Colizeo. "We feel like he's had a solid five weeks since his race. He seems to be moving forward with some seasoning under his belt. Maybe Saturday will be a nice barometer to see where he fits."

In all, seven are entered in the 13th Northern Dancer, with Crider being another major player. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Crider most recently ran second in the Lone Star Derby to Game On Dude, whose fourth-place finish last Saturday in the Belmont Stakes serves to flatter the Lone Star race.

Others in the race include Vow to Wager, who stretches out for Romans, and Worldly, who goes turf-to-dirt when reunited with Robby Albarado. Later Saturday, Albarado will be aboard Macho Again when the jockey goes for his fourth straight Foster victory, having won in 2007 with Flashy Bull, 2008 with Curlin, and last year on Macho Again.