06/22/2005 11:00PM

Criminal Mind back with peers

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NEW YORK - The two most prestigious races in the country Saturday are the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, and the Grade 2, $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, an important turf test for fillies and mares. But the two richest races Saturday, with purses of $500,000 each, are two almost identical turf races for 3-year-olds at tracks only 240 miles apart. They are the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs, and the Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park. Way to schedule, fellas.

Colonial Turf Cup

Not surprisingly, six horses were cross-entered in this event and the Kent. As luck (or perhaps misfortune, depending on how things turn out) would have it, I like horses in both races whose connections picked just the one spot.

Certainly, English Channel and Classic Campaign will be tough to handle in this race. English Channel was visually impressive crushing softer last time out in the Woodlawn Stakes on the Preakness undercard, running really only the final eighth of a mile. As for Classic Campaign, he was sharp most recently in the Hill Prince Stakes, missing by a neck despite getting put into the rail late. In fact, he should have been moved up from third to second via disqualification, but wasn't in a terrible non-call by the Belmont stewards.

But, Criminal Mind is a good play here at odds that figure to be in the 8-1 to 10-1 range. Criminal Mind kept good company on the dirt earlier in the year, coming out of races won by Harlington, Closing Argument, and Sun King, and despite finishing fifth in his first attempt on the turf last time out, he ran very well. For one, Criminal Mind made up a lot of ground into a slow pace and was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths. More importantly, Criminal Mind was in with very tough older horses. That race was won by Relaxed Gesture, who came back to be a narrowly beaten second in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap. The runner-up was Ershaad, who came back to win his next start decisively. The move back in with straight 3-year-olds Saturday represents a substantial class drop for Criminal Mind.

Mother Goose

This race came up pretty salty despite attracting a field of only six, as it boasts Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly and Black-Eyed Susan winner Spun Sugar. Those two are far from invincible, however. Summerly finally recorded an important victory without the benefit of a soft pace when she won the Oaks, but her final time was slow. Spun Sugar recorded her first stakes win in the Black-Eyed Susan, but that effort should be taken with at least a bit of skepticism since it occurred over a sloppy, sealed track.

I like Smuggler, whose game second last time out in the Acorn Stakes was even better than it looks on paper. Smuggler was close up through very fast early fractions; in fact, she gained ground through a second quarter run in 22.23 seconds. Still, she battled gamely to the finish to be beaten just 1 1/2 lengths. Smuggler is more effective when allowed to relax early, and she will love stretching out to nine furlongs.

Kent Breeders' Cup

Chattahoochee War did not perform to expectations last time out when seventh as the favorite in the Crown Royal American Turf, but he had excuses. That running line will make him a better price this time, and he is taken to rebound.

In the American Turf, Chattahoochee War had a wide trip, and may have also been compromised by moving too soon. He proved he is good enough to win this when he got up in the Transylvania two starts back, beating Rey de Cafe, who came back to win not only the American Turf but also the Hill Prince. Chattahoochee War has blinkers off Saturday, which should help him relax and make one run, and he will be ridden for the first time by Patrick Valenzuela, which is always a good thing.

Saturday

Belmont Park: Mother Goose Stakes
Fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-4:56 p.m., Central-3:56 p.m., Mountain-2:56 p.m., Pacific-1:56 p.m.
Elmont, N. Y., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 92 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Seeking the Ante93927815-1
2Smuggler9892713-1
3Spun Sugar9493752-1
4Winning Season87817320-1
5Lady Pegasus84838012-1
6Summerly9068951-1

Odds by Dan Illman

Delaware Park: Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes
3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-3:54 p.m., Central-2:54 p.m., Mountain-1:54 p.m., Pacific-12:54 p.m.
Stanton, De., forecast: Slight chance of thunderstorms, 90 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Holy Ground76787510-1
2Interpatation89818810-1
3Call My Bluff82828615-1
4Spring House8879796-1
5Touched by Madness9488796-1
6Crown Point9087805-1
7Chattahoochee War9096844-1
8Learning8274--15-1
9Mighty Mecke93388110-1
10Wallstreet Scandal80--908-1
11Killenaule75767710-1
12Seeking Slew9948--8-1
Also Eligible:
13Gray Suitor78724912-1
14El Viaje68625430-1

Track morning line odds

Colonial Downs: Colonial Turf Cup
3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-5:12 p.m., Central-4:12 p.m., Mountain-3:12 p.m., Pacific-2:12 p.m.
New Kent, Va., forecast: Sunny, 90 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1El Viaje68625415-1
2Wallstreet Scandal80--908-1
3Criminal Mind93847710-1
4Interpatation89818815-1
5Mad Adam95876410-1
6Touched by Madness9488799-2
7English Channel9093725-2
8Spring House88797915-1
9Classic Campaign9390907-2
10Crown Point90878015-1
11Exceptional Ride84906412-1

Track morning line odds