06/30/2006 12:00AM

Delaware: Cat Criminal eyes Leonard Richards


In his first start against older horses last weekend, Cat Criminal didn't run quite as fast or win quite as easily as he did when he crushed a field of maidens by 10 3/4 lengths and earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in his 3-year-old debut. But trainer Steve Klesaris was nevertheless thrilled with Cat Criminal's wire-to-wire 1 1/4-length victory - worth a 93 Beyer - in a first-level allowance at Delaware Park last Saturday.

Klesaris was so impressed, in fact, that he said he intends to point Cat Criminal to the Grade 3, $300,000 Leonard Richards Stakes on July 16 at Delaware.

"There was a lot left in the tank through the lane," Klesaris said. "Right now, we are pointing him toward the Leonard Richards. If all goes correctly over the next couple of weeks, that is the direction we are going to go."

An ankle injury sustained in his career debut last summer at Saratoga prevented Cat Criminal, a son of Tale of the Cat, from racing more than once as a 2-year-old. With just three career starts, he remains a work in progress.

"He is still green and he is learning with each start," Klesaris said. "He faced older horses, and obviously it was a better test than his maiden. His last race was no doubt a positive stepping-stone to his next against straight 3-year-old stake winners."

* Unraced until nearly halfway through his 5-year-old season, Song for the Best made a good first impression when he finally got to run.

A Kentucky-bred son of Unbridled's Song trained by Rodney Jenkins for Centennial Farm, Song for the Best romped by 9 3/4 lengths, earning a 92 Beyer, in a maiden special weight six-furlong sprint at Delaware on June 19.

"He is about 17 hands and he just had some physical problems that kept him from running," Jenkins said when asked about Song for the Best's inactivity. "I had him ready last year and he pulled high check ligament. I recommended that he be given more time.

"The owners are great people and they never rush them," he said. "If it takes forever, they hang in there."

Jenkins said he will likely look to place Song for the Best in a first-level allowance race when Saratoga opens.