11/19/2004 12:00AM

Distance, pace favor Cryptograph


Cryptograph would like what he would see if he could read the past performance lines of his 11 rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sunday. He's a closer and there is no shortage of speed in the race, with entrants like Quintons Gold Rush, Britt's Jules, and Gamblin.

The Oklahoma Derby, which drew more starters than expected with the entry of some locals, is one of four stakes that will make up the richest card of the meet. The stakes are linked by a special pick four that includes the $75,000 MEC Mile.

Cryptograph will benefit if the speed horses work against each other on Sunday. He added blinkers last out and was a fast-closing second to Pollard's Vision in the Grade 3, $250,000 Lone Star Derby on Oct. 29.

"I think at a mile and an eighth he might have got him, but it wasn't that far that day," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Cryptograph.

Cryptograph will get that additional sixteenth of a mile to work with in the 1 1/8-mile Oklahoma Derby, and the distance is one of his best, judging from his win in the $100,000 Round Table at Arlington on July 17, also at 1 1/8 miles.

"I think he's done well since he came up from Lone Star," said Von Hemel, a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Derby. "I see no reason he won't run a good race."

Quintons Gold Rush will be sharp for the move back to two turns after a wire-to-wire win in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs. The winner of the Grade 2 Lexington in April, he is looking for his first win beyond a 1 1/16 miles Sunday.

"He's capable of getting it," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Quintons Gold Rush.

Golden Glen makes his stakes debut after back-to-back allowance wins, and as a closer will benefit from a solid pace Sunday. He won at 1 1/8 miles in his last start, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

"We took him off the turf and have kept him on dirt," said Bobby Barnett, who trains Golden Glen. "He seems to really be coming into form right now."

Other top contenders in the race are Britt's Jules and Mr. Jester, whose connections said earlier this week the horses would add blinkers. Because neither horse has worked at Remington, the equipment changes do not need to be declared at entry time.