08/28/2008 11:00PM

Deal Making offers live option in Kent


A trio of 3-year-olds who ran well in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga earlier this month, including winner Wesley and beaten favorite Adriano, head an 11-horse lineup for Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park.

Adriano, winless in three starts since taking the Grade 2 Lane's End on Turfway Park's Polytrack in March, is an underlay as the 5-2 favorite on the track's morning line, and Wesley is a shaky proposition as the 7-2 second choice breaking from post 11 over a course where posts 9-12 are winning at 4 percent (6 for 149) at the meet.

Bargain-hunters may have a viable alternative, however, in the Hall of Fame's third-place finisher, Deal Making.

The lightly raced Deal Making, listed at 6-1, missed by a mere half-length trying to close into slow fractions while blocked in the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, his first loss in four career starts.

Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard when Deal Making won an overnight stakes at Delaware Park on July 1 and in the Hall of Fame last time, retains the mount for trainer Graham Motion.

"He was definitely a little unlucky," Motion said of Deal Making's troubled trip in the Hall of Fame. "Ramon could not get him out until a little too late, but a couple of other horses in the race could the say the same thing. He still put forth a very good effort.

"To be honest, he has been a huge surprise to me," Motion added. "Stepping up from winning the overnight stake at Delaware to running in a graded race was a huge jump and he responded to the challenge well."

Motion said Deal Making, unraced at 2, has been a much-improved horse since he was gelded at the suggestion of Augustin Stable owner George Strawbridge Jr. last winter. He won his career debut in April at Atlantic City, cleared his first allowance condition at Philadelphia Park, and then overcame a bad start to win the $59,000 Stanton. He has moved forward on the Beyer Speed Figure scale with each start, but his top of 87 is still well below the par of 97 for the Kent.

Adriano got a 92 Beyer for winning the Lane's End and a 90 for his win in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park in January, and Wesley recorded a 92 winning his grass debut two starts ago. The lone other member of the Kent field with a 90-plus Beyer is Luck Money.

Luck Money, who began his career in England, won his North American debut in a restricted stakes at Saratoga with a 96 Beyer, but there are red flags. Luck Money needed 24.80 seconds to run his final quarter-mile, a slow time for graded stakes horses. The runner-up, Prussian, finished 10th as the even-money favorite in an optional claimer at Saratoga last Saturday.

The card also includes the $100,000 Go for Wand, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-old fillies.

Trainer Larry Jones has a strong coupled entry in Maren's Meadow, a two-time Grade 3 stakes winner who is coming off a dominant score in the Monmouth Oaks, and My Heavenly Sign, who is 3 for 5 locally but has yet to race beyond a mile.