09/08/2006 11:00PM

Derby Trial just the ticket for two trainers


Timing in racing is as important as location in real estate.

And the timing of Monday's $65,000 Derby Trial at 1 1/16 miles at Fairplex works perfectly for trainers Jeff Mullins and Doug O'Neill.

The race serves as a prep for the $100,000 Pomona Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 23.

Mullins will send out Seven Nation Army, who comes off a victory in the $100,000 Real Good Deal at Del Mar on Aug. 11. It will be the 3-year-old gelding's first try beyond a mile. O'Neill is sending out Gimme S'mor, just claimed from a nose victory on Aug. 12 at Del Mar.

For both, the timing is perfect with a month between races. For Mullins, the distance is perfect, too.

"Some people have asked why I'd go here and not wait for the Derby, but I didn't want to go 1 1/8 miles in his first try around two turns," Mullins said. "I think I've found a good spot to stretch him out."

Seven Nation Army is the lone runner among the overflow field of 12 entrants, which includes two also-eligibles.

"He's given me a lot of clues that he'll handle the distance," Mullins said. "He's a long-striding colt, and we've got plenty of bottom in him."

Seven Nation Army, who has 2 wins, 2 seconds, and a third in 6 career starts, ran third in the 6 1/2-furlong Barretts Juvenile last year, beaten only a half-length.

O'Neill knows Gimme S'mor can get the route. He won a 1 1/16-mile turf test the day he was claimed for $62,500 and won at a mile on the main track in his previous start.

Gimme S'mor was claimed by Steve Kenly's STD Racing Stable.

"When we claimed him, Steve was pretty adamant that if we claimed him, this is where he wanted him to go," O'Neill said.

Kenly and O'Neill did the same thing two years ago with Lava Man.

"Sure, you can dream about Lava Man, but your realistic hope is that he's worth what you paid for him. If he is, he should be competitive."

Seven Nation Army drew the 2 post and Gimme S'mor the 3. Both should be involved in the pace picture with The Five J's, who has held the lead in his past three starts: the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap, the Oceanside, and the Grade 2 La Jolla.

Plug Me In and Fighting City Hall also have some speed but appear more likely to be stalkers in this field.