05/15/2002 11:00PM

'Crypt' prefers fast track

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Tails of the Crypt and Changeintheweather, both defectors from the road to the Kentucky Derby, will meet Queen's Plate contenders Ford Every Stream, Barbeau Ruckus, and Anglian Prince in Saturday's $162,750 Marine Stakes.

The Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds will be the 10th race on the expanded 11-race Woodbine card. The simulcast of the Preakness Stakes will follow the final race.

Tails of the Crypt is trained by John Ross, who has sent out the winners of the last two 3-year-old stakes run at Woodbine. A son of Regal Classic, Tails of the Crypt returned from a winter break Feb. 23 at Tampa Bay to finish second over a sloppy track in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.

A month later in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, Tails of the Crypt closed steadily from fifth to finish second to Equality. Most recently in the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, he was a distant sixth over a drying-out track labeled fast.

Ross believes Tails of the Crypt isn't at his best over an off track, even though his wet-track record indicates otherwise.

"He runs okay in the mud, but his best surface is a fast track," Ross said. "It rained like hell the morning of the Lexington, and it was a drying out track when they ran the race. He didn't handle it at all."

Ross said there's an outside chance that Tails of the Crypt could make his next start in the June 8 Belmont Stakes. "I'll think about [the Belmont] if he wins [the Marine] in good time and stays healthy," he said.

Changeintheweather beat a troubled Tails of the Crypt when he captured the Grade 1 Grey BC Stakes here in October. Trainer David Bell took Changeintheweather to Florida for the winter, and saddled him to a narrow allowance win March 9 at Gulfstream.

Changeintheweather has been idle since he finished a well-beaten seventh behind subsequent Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby at Sports-man's Park on April 6. Bell feels the race is a throwout.

"He broke okay," Bell said, "and was sitting in the right spot, but he didn't like getting all the dirt in his face going into the first turn. He made a little run down the backside, but nobody was catching anyone."

Bell is putting blinkers on Changeintheweather, an equipment change he wanted to make last year with the horse. "We've been breezing him with blinkers and in behind horses, to get him used to the dirt," Bell said.

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