11/09/2007 12:00AM

Distorted Reality best fits Churchill turf profile

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - A case can be made for most of the runners in Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs. But there has been a turf running style bias in place over the last seven race cards that can help to narrow the contention a bit in this wide-open field.

From Nov. 1 through Nov. 8, 12 turf route races were run at Churchill. Only one of those races was won by the first-call leader. And there were no winners from second position at that point in the race. That makes the horses who were first or second early just 1 for 24, a low 4 percent win rate. There was just one other winner as close as third, making those among the first three to the first call just 2 for 36, a low 5.6 percent win rate. But that might be cutting things too close for handicapping purposes, as a cluster of four winners, 33 percent, came from fourth place.

The question is: Who will be helped, and who will be hindered by this trend if it remains in place?

Elite Squadron will probably want to be on or near the lead as he stretches out to a route distance for the first time. He will have to improve on the move to the grass.

Voy Por Uno Mas led at the first call in four of his last five races. The good news is that he did rally from third when he finished a close second in a stakes on the grass at Ellis Park three races ago, so it is possible that he will be able to be more tractable on Sunday.

Warn was among the last three to the first call in each of his last four route races, which, as the statistics indicate, makes him a low-percentage play.

Inca King won the Bryan Station impressively at Keeneland. But he was either first or second at the first call in each of his last seven route races, so he might not be willing to rate farther back if he is asked to do so. His connections will have to hope Churchill's turf course is kinder to his running style than it has been recently.

Equitable has the right running style, but does he have the right stuff? He has won two straight races. But those were hard-fought maiden and first-level allowance races, so he will have to continue to improve to win this race.

Prom Shoes rallied from fourth to win a second-level allowance on the main track at Churchill last time. He missed by only a nose in the Grade 2 Peter Pan in his career-best effort, so he deserves respect. He has an ordinary 253 turf Tomlinson as he tries the turf for the first time.

Slew's Tizzy was willing to rate more kindly than usual in his last three starts. He has been inconsistent in his recent races, but if he brings his "A" game, he can win. Improvement is possible with a solid, though unspectacular, 283 turf Tomlinson as he makes his first start on the grass.

Sedgefield finished nine lengths behind Street Sense, 6 3/4 lengths behind Hard Spun, and only a length behind Curlin while checking in fifth in the Kentucky Derby. He has already shown that he likes turf. But he was trounced by 28 lengths when he returned from a five-month layoff in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. Julien Leparoux sticks with him, so I will give this horse the benefit of the doubt.

Distorted Reality was second or third early in four straight route races. But he was much more relaxed when he was seventh, just 3 1/4 lengths off the early lead, last time with help from a switch to Rafael Bejarano. Distorted Reality has the talent to win this race based on two second-place finishes against Grade 3 company, and a second in a Grade 3. If Bejarano can keep him a little closer while still sitting behind the first three runners, Distorted Reality can beat this ungraded stakes field. I will give him the narrow edge as my selection.