08/19/2008 11:00PM

Desert Key's draw pleases Jerkens


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Shortly before Wednesday’s post-position draw for the $250,000 King’s Bishop Stakes, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he’d prefer to be near the inside rather than the outside with his speedy Desert Key. Jerkens got his wish after Desert Key drew the rail for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, the most important of three graded stakes on Saturday’s Travers Day undercard.

The seven-furlong King’s Bishop attracted a surprisingly large field of 11 3-year-olds with the late addition of Lantana Mob, who will run coupled as an entry with Kodiak Kowboy. J Be K, who like Desert Key is at his best when on or with the pace, figures to go postward as the favorite in a well-matched lineup that also includes Golden Spikes, Nautical Storm, Visionaire, I’m So Lucky, Silver Edition, Gentleman James, and Salute the Sarge.

Desert Key enters the King’s Bishop off a game second-place finish behind Kodiak Kowboy in the Grade 2 Amsterdam here on July 28. Desert Key contested swift fractions before succumbing grudgingly to the winner in the final strides. In his previous start, Desert Key led throughout en route to an easy entry-level allowance win.

“He doesn’t have to be on the lead,” said Jerkens. “He stalked the pace and rallied to win his maiden. But for some reason he’s shown incredible, although easy, speed in his last two races, and if he shows that kind of speed again I’d rather be closer to the rail. Sometimes, on big race days, you can get a golden rail, and if that’s the case Saturday it might carry him a little farther.”

J Be K has won three of his last four starts, all graded stakes, while either on or within a head of the lead on each occasion. J Be K will break from post 8 in the King’s Bishop.

A contested pace could play into the hands of the red-hot trio of I’m So Lucky, Golden Spikes, and Visionaire, who, combined, have won their last six starts.

The most exciting horse on the Travers card may be the undefeated and untested Indyanne, who will be odds-on to win for the fifth time in as many starts in the Grade 3 Victory Ride. Indyanne has captured her four previous starts by an average of better than eight lengths, including Calder’s Grade 3 Azalea by 9 1/2 lengths on July 12.

Indyanne drew post 5 in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies that also includes graded stakes winners Palanka City and More Happy.

“She has enough speed where her post shouldn’t be an issue, although I don’t think she absolutely has to be on the lead to win,” said trainer Greg Gilchrist.

Thorn Song and Distorted Reality, third and fourth, respectively, in the Fourstardave earlier this month, may vie for favoritism in a competitive field of 10 older horses set to go 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch.