06/21/2007 12:00AM

Course may hurt Dreadnaught


One question outweighs all others in the $100,000 Sussex at Delaware Park on Saturday. Will Dreadnaught get up in time?

Exiting back-to-back starts in Grade 2 stakes, and with more than $600,000 in earnings, Dreadnaught dwarfs the rest of the Sussex field of 10 in terms of class. Within the past year, the Tom Voss-trained 7-year-old gelding has raced against such turf stars as English Channel, Ashkal Way, and Ramazutti.

The trouble with Dreadnaught is he's a deep closer and the course Saturday favors front-runners and stalkers.

In the 32 turf route races at this meet through Wednesday, closers won five. Pacesetters and horses within two lengths of the lead at the first call won 16 of the 32 races, and runners trailing by two to five lengths early won 11 of them.

Twice in his last four starts, Dreadnaught ran in races similar to the Sussex - the $75,000 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park in January and the $76,000 Laurel Turf Cup in November. He closed hard in both of them and came up short, losing by a neck.

In addition, Dreadnaught's rider, Jean Luc Samyn, is in a slump, with 7 winners from 194 mounts (4 percent) this year.

Meanwhile, Giant Wrecker, trained by Mark Hennig and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, appears best of the front-runners and pace-pressers.

Giant Wrecker ran second last out, beating nine, in the Grade 3 Miami Beach Breeders' Cup Handicap at Calder on April 28. He also owns the best last-out Beyer Speed Figure (101) in the field. Giant Wrecker and Dreadnaught are the only two in the Sussex to have run two or more triple-digit Beyers.

Others likely to get involved early, and capable of winning at a price, are Ballast, Tune of the Spirit, and Stay Close.

Ballast has won 3 of his last 7 starts, all on turf, including the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder in December. He finished only 1 3/4 lengths behind Dreadnaught in the Fort Lauderdale, and is 12-1 on the morning line.

If Giant Wrecker does not get the early lead, Tune of the Spirit, opening at 15-1, probably will. His inside draw in post 3 definitely will help.

Stay Close exits a $50,300 money allowance win at Delaware. His turf record is strong - 5 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 15 starts - and his trainer, Mike Zwiesler, excels with runners coming off a win. Since January 2006, Zwiesler has started 33 horses coming off a win and won with 11 of them.