06/15/2006 11:00PM

Distance question for one, speed question for another


The contrasting styles of stretch-out sprinter Johnie Bye Night and deep closer S. Cherry Legacy pose an interesting scenario for handicappers in Sunday's $50,000 Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes.

A 4-year-old, Johnie Bye Night dominated last month's six-furlong George W. Barker, earning a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure, but he has yet to race around two turns, let alone attempt the 1 1/8 miles of the Wadsworth.

S. Cherry Legacy is clearly capable of handling the distance. He was third in last year's Wadsworth, one start after winning going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park. But he has little early speed, so S. Cherry Legacy must get sufficient early pace and weave his way through traffic in order to have a chance.

On the plus side, S. Cherry Legacy is a six-time winner at Finger Lakes and will be making his second start off a long layoff. His trainer, Michael Lecesse, has a 38-percent success rate with that angle the past two seasons and won the Wadsworth two years ago with Dulce De Leche and in 1999 with Missionary Monk.

Sheer numbers give trainer Oscar Barrera Jr. a good chance of picking up at least a piece of the Wadsworth purse. Barrera has four of the 11 horses entered, including a three-horse entry for Flying Zee Stable.

Barrera's best horse appears to be Taking the Redeye, part of the three-horse coupling. A 5-year-old gelding, Taking the Redeye has shown excellent early speed in routes and tuned up for the Wadsworth by working three furlongs in a bullet 34.80 seconds on Tuesday.

Master David is another intriguing horse, if he runs in the Wadsworth instead of an allowance race Saturday at Monmouth Park. A one-time hot prospect, Master David was second in the Grade 2 Remsen at 2 and second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial two years ago before finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. But he has now lost 17 races in a row since his last win, in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in February 2004.

One race before the Wadsworth, eight New York-bred 3-year-olds will contest the Ontario County at six furlongs.

Strummer, the horse with the best overall credentials, could be vulnerable at a short price.

Based at Belmont Park with trainer Tom Bush, Strummer defeated open company in the Jimmy Winkfield over Aqueduct's inner track and followed up with a third-place finish against similar competition in the Fred Capossela. But Strummer has failed to finish better than fourth in two previous stakes tries against statebreds, including last year's New York Futurity at Finger Lakes, a race where he was beaten almost 16 lengths.

Viable alternatives include Prince o' Pranks, who defeated second-level open allowance sprinters at Charles Town last time out; Precise Tactics, a winner of three straight since trainer Linda Rice shipped him to Finger Lakes in April; and Precise Tactics, who came from off the pace to defeat first-level allowance sprinters in his first start at Finger Lakes last time out.