08/29/2001 11:00PM

Cox's Sweep can clean up after duel

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SALEM, N.H. - Cox's Sweep will have a chance to reinforce his leadership of the local sprint division when he totes top weight of 123 pounds in Saturday's $25,000 Manchester Handicap at Rocking-ham Park.

The six-furlong Manchester is the first of three stakes that will be presented over the Labor Day weekend. Older horses will meet in Sunday's Sam McCracken Memorial, while fillies and mares will meet in the Kenneth L. Graf Memorial, the headliner on Monday's 14-race doubleheader. Both the McCracken and the Graf will be decided at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course for $25,000 purses. Post time Monday is 10:30 a.m.

Cox's Sweep, who races for Teresa Horky and Keith Shelansky and is trained by Wayne Marcoux, is being asked to spot six rivals anywhere from three to nine pounds in the Manchester. His assignment is two pounds more than he carried to a decisive 6 1/2-length romp in the Rockingham Sprint Handicap a month ago, but the makeup of the Manchester field ensures that Cox's Sweep will find the fast pace he needs to make his late run effective.

In the Rock Sprint, Cox's Sweep stayed unexpectedly close to the fast pace set by Captain Red, who returns in the Manchester. But, by the time Cox's Sweep passed the furlong pole in 57.60 seconds, he had opened a two-length lead, and he just piled it on from there to the finish. That was the second straight win over Captain Red for Cox's Sweep, and his third win of the year. Jockey Taylor Hole will return Saturday.

There is an abundance of speed horses in the Manchester, and a speed duel will play right into the hands of Cox's Sweep.

Binnifactor hasn't been headed before the quarter pole in his last five races and may be the fastest of the fast in here. The 4-year-old Binnifactor flashed his speed to win a couple of allowance races earlier this meet, but he hasn't been to the races for two months. He will carry 118 pounds.

Captain Red, at 120 pounds, has won one and lost three to Cox's Sweep in his last four starts, but he has the speed to stay with Binnifactor.

Fetch Dinner, at 118 pounds, comes in from Monmouth and should appreciate the change of company. He is winless in six starts this year, but he has been taking on much stronger than he will encounter in the Manchester. In his last race, he was beaten just two lengths when fourth in the $75,000 Teddy Drone.