10/27/2005 12:00AM

Discovery jam-packed with speed

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Jim Linscott
Scrappy T comes off a strong workout and will have Jerry Bailey up.

ELMONT, N.Y. - As appetizers go, the Discovery Handicap looks delicious. The Breeders' Cup menu begins with the race immediately following the Discovery, but on any other day, this would be a whopper of a feature. For 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, and with a healthy purse of $250,000, the Discovery drew a field of 11.

For bettors, the Grade 3 Discovery will offer square prices galore on horses plenty good enough to win. Settle on the right one, and the bankroll will be fattened up just in time for the Breeders' Cup. But outside the handicapping arena, the Discovery showcases horses worth following, especially with a new season of older-horse handicaps just around the corner.

Favored should be , known as much for the fireworks in the Preakness Stakes, where he swerved out sharply at the head of the stretch and nearly took out Afleet Alex, as he is for his own ability as a racehorse. But Scrappy T is pretty good. He wound up second in the Preakness, was kept out of summer races with soreness in his hind end, and turned in a creditable comeback run, finishing second to Don't Get Mad in the Indiana Derby on Oct. 2. Scrappy T has since breezed twice at the Maryland base of trainer Robert Bailes, the last of those works a blazing five furlongs in mud, and Scrappy T's supporters in the Discovery are sure to increase in number with Jerry Bailey taking over Saturday.

The Santa Anita Derby winner will make his first start since being purchased at a summer auction for $725,000 by owner Gary Broad, who turned him over to trainer Ron Ellis. Away since June 18, Buzzards Bay shows a string of powerful California workouts, and can be expected to fire fresh.

held his own this week in a Monday workout with Breeders' Cup Classic-bound Flower Alley, and comes off a victory in the Pegasus at The Meadowlands. Magna Graduate looks like a sharp horse and should race close to the pace in the Discovery.

And therein lies a potential key to this race. If most of the pace entered in the race shows up when the gates spring, the early fractions are going to be hot - too hot for a speed horse to hold on if the track plays fairly. If the race falls apart, a horse like Andromeda's Hero or Scipion could clunk up in the stretch. Scipion fell off the Triple Crown Trail early this spring when he fractured a leg, but he has upside and has breezed steadily over the Polytrack at Turfway Park for trainer Patrick Biancone.