04/07/2010 11:00PM

Custom for Carlos a talented specialist


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Custom for Carlos began the year at Gulfstream Park, went to Aqueduct last month, and now is here at Oaklawn Park, where he will run on Friday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Handicap for older sprinters. The Count Fleet marks the fifth different track at which he will have raced in his last five starts.

It's not as though his trainer, Eddie Kenneally, is trying to rack up frequent-flyer points. Rather, Kenneally said he wants to keep Custom for Carlos in six-furlong races, 6 1/2 furlongs if he must, and the six furlongs of the Count Fleet is ideal.

"He runs really well at six furlongs," Kenneally said Wednesday morning via telephone. "That's his best distance. There's not a lot of graded stakes at that distance this time of year. It's a good purse, and a graded stakes race. That's why he's there."

Custom for Carlos is one of the nation's elite sprinters. He won the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in January, then was narrowly beaten by Wall Street Wonder in the Grade 3 Toboggan at Aqueduct on March 6 after dueling with the winner every step of the way.

"He was down on the inside that day, which wasn't ideal, but he ran hard and just got beat in a head bob," Kenneally said.

On Friday, Custom for Carlos landed post 3 in the field of seven. He picks up the services of jockey Mike Smith, who is in town to ride Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom later in the day.

Custom for Carlos figures to have plenty of company on the front end. Chief of Affairs comes off a fast, front-running win at this track going 5 1/2 furlongs, and Ez Dreamer, the Phoenix Gold Cup winner in his race before last, also likes to mix it up early. Ez Dreamer set the pace before fading to third in the Hot Springs on March 20.

That confluence of speed could benefit Cosmic, who rallied powerfully to beat Chief of Affairs in the King Cotton going six furlongs here in February. In his last start, Cosmic was caught wide and never got a fair chance in the Hot Springs. He also is in receipt of eight pounds (114-122) from Custom for Carlos.

Riley Tucker, second in the Hot Springs, also should get a super trip stalking the leaders. He has run well in both his starts here this meet, both at six furlongs. He captured an upper-level allowance race before the Hot Springs.

Native Ruler was fourth in the Hot Springs in his first start in six months. Silver Edition finished last in the Hot Springs and seems well off his best form.