10/16/2003 12:00AM

Distinct Vision in tough


Distinct Vision has won three races - by a combined margin of nearly 21 lengths - and finished a close second in four starts at Delaware Park this season, all with Ramon Dominguez as his jockey. In three trips out of town, with a different rider on his back each time, Distinct Vision has been beaten a collective 44 lengths.

Trainer Mike Pino has done his best to accommodate Distinct Vision's preferences by entering him in Saturday's $100,000 Sussex Handicap, but the gelding will have to race on turf for the first time and might have to do without Dominguez.

Dominguez, the nation's leading rider in wins, has been named on two other contenders besides Distinct Vision. He is also listed to ride graded stakes winner Political Attack and My Kind of Town, a Maryland shipper from the top stable of Dale Capuano.

Needless to say, Pino is hopeful Dominguez chooses Distinct Vision, a 3-year-old he took out of a $25,000 maiden claiming race at Fair Grounds last March.

"Ramon really gets along with this horse," Pino said. "I think the horse really has a connection with him."

Pino also acknowledged that Distinct Vision, seventh in the Grade 2 Jerome in New York and sixth in the Point Given at Monmouth in his last two starts, is a poor shipper.

"He's better running out of the stall," Pino said. "He's really not dealing with the shipping. He gets a little more excited when he ships and it may be a little too much for him."

Several of the Sussex contenders who possess strong turf credentials could also prove a little too much for Distinct Vision.

Political Attack won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap at Gulfstream Park in March and has faced Grade 2 runners in his last three starts.

Burning Roma has won 11 of 28 starts and $1.3 million in his career, almost all of it on the main track. In his only two grass starts, Burning Roma won the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure and just missed in the John Henry at The Meadowlands earlier this month.

Better Talk Now, 2 for 2 over Delaware's turf course, came up a neck short of Honor in War in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap in July and finished less than three lengths behind Strut the Stage in the Grade 2 Niagara Breeders' Cup at Woodbine. He will be cutting back in distance after three straight races at either 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 miles.

Two stakes for Virginia-breds

Saturday's undercard includes a pair of $40,000 sprints for Virginia-bred 2-year-olds - the M. Tyson Gilpin and the Hildene.

Tap Day is a clear standout in the six-furlong Gilpin.

The Hildene, for 2-year-old fillies, boils down to a two-horse race between Delaware-based A Fancy Gal and Midwest shipper Old Fashion Girl, a maiden whose Beyers in second-place finishes at Churchill Downs and Arlington Park are competitive with the 69 A Real Fancy Gal earned in her lone win, in August.