07/19/2001 12:00AM

DRF's Saturday Stakes roundup


It's homecoming day for Minor Wisdom

SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Minor Wisdom makes a homecoming of sorts for Minnesota-based owners Joe and Carolyn Friedberg in Saturday's $40,000 John Bullit Handicap at Canterbury Park.

A winner of the Hawthorne Derby at 3, Minor Wisdom commenced his 4-year-old season with an easy win at Canterbury last year. A homebred, Minor Wisdom went on to win the Cardinal Stakes at Arlington Park and followed that up with two near-miss efforts in the John Henry and Kentucky Cup Mile. After finishing a non-threatening ninth in the Bradley Stakes at Fair Grounds, the horse was given a five-month freshening.

Trainer Richie Scherer has brought Minor Wisdom back with a steady series of drills over the Arlington surface which indicate he should be ready to fire off the bench in the John Bullit, a 1 1/16-mile race on turf. The trainer maintains a division at Canterbury under the direction of his brother, Gary Scherer, which should help ensure a comfortable ship for Minor Wisdom. Five-time leading rider Luis Quinonez, who visits Canterbury during the Prairie Meadows thoroughbred hiatus, has been engaged to ride.

Trainer Wayne Catalano sends Ivars Big Peaceful to the John Bullit after two non- threatening efforts on the turf in Chicago. A winner of the Restoration Stakes at Monmouth last summer, Ivars Big Peaceful's last win came in an optional claiming event at Gulfstream.

Smoky Cinder makes the journey to Canterbury from Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg. The 7-year-old Smokey Cinder has won a number of minor stakes in Canada at sprint and route distances but is winless in two starts over grass.

Locally based Turk Flyer has demonstrated an affinity for the Canterbury turf. A close third in last year's John Bullit, he signaled his readiness with an impressive win over Canterbury allowance foes two weeks ago.

- David M. Miller

Philadelphia: Goddess has best resume

Proven turf form is in short commodity among the 10 3-year-old fillies entered in the $50,000 Southampton Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Seven fillies have either never won on grass or won just a maiden race over the surface, which makes the 1 1/16-mile stakes something of a guessing game for handicappers.

The horse with the best turf credentials is The Goddess Athird. Her record of 3-2-3 in nine turf starts includes a wire-to-wire win at 8 1/2 furlongs in a stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and a good third in last month's Captive Miss at Monmouth Park. The Goddess Athird was scratched out of an allowance/optional claiming race with a $41,000 purse that was taken off the turf on Thursday's program at Monmouth.

Miner's Crown is the only other horse with more than one turf win, but all of her best races occurred last winter and early spring. In her two most recent starts, Miner's Crown failed to show her best closing kick in a pair of turf routes at Monmouth.

Haitian Vacation shows the best recent Beyer Speed Figure on turf, an 81 that she earned while finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Reeve Schley at Monmouth. In six tries over grass, however, Haitian Vacation is winless.

Among the horses trying turf for the first time, Proudtobeaprado might have the best chance of scoring an upset. She has never been worse than third in four lifetime starts, has a 295 Tomlinson rating that indicates she should like turf, and comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher, who has connected with 25 percent of his first-time turf runners the past two years.

- Joe DeVivo

Horsemen's: Female sprinters in feature

OMAHA, Neb. - Naturalingredients, the highweight at 121 pounds, heads a full field of 10 fillies and mares in the $30,000 Queen's Handicap at six furlongs, one of two stakes races on the four-race card at Horsemen's Park.

Naturalingredients invades from the recently concluded Lone Star Park meet, where she fell victim to Hallowed Dreams in her two most recent starts. Naturalingredients rates the edge in a speed-laden field off her Lone Star efforts. She has shown the ability to lay just off the pace, which should be hotly contested.

Several other invaders are in the field. Atyour Convenience, trained by Normie Thomas, finished second last out in the Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury Park. Heavens Above comes in from Churchill Downs for trainer Mary Jo Lohmeier. Trainer Jim McCoy brings in Scarlet Glory from Prairie Meadows, where she was most recently third in the Hawkeyes Stakes.

In the $25,000, one-mile Nebraskaland Handicap for older state-breds, trainer Julie Larmon sends out the coupled entry of Doug's Shadow, the highweight at 121 pounds, and Curly Carnivalay.

Doug's Shadow won the President's Cup and Amadevil handicaps at Lincoln. Although both win came in sprints, he ran second in his only route try behind High Dice, who goes in Sunday's Omaha Handicap.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Ellis: Slight edge to Son of Rocket

With a majority of the field having never run on turf, and those with experience having only moderate success on the surface, the $50,000 Kentucky Colonel Stakes at Ellis Park presents a good test for the handicappers. The Kentucky Colonel is for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Slight favoritism may go to Son of Rocket, the highest earner in the field and one of only two with a turf win to his credit. That victory was on the Ellis turf last summer, and he has since become a more distinguished colt on dirt. Son of Rocket's wins in the Mountain Valley and Southwest at Oaklawn this spring gave the colt's owners aspirations of a possible trip to the Kentucky Derby, but back-to-back losses in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby forced them to seek lighter company.

After a second behind the highly regarded Touch Tone at Lone Star, Son of Rocket finished a poor seventh in the Northern Dancer Handicap at Churchill. If his recent morning works are any evidence, Son of Rocket should be ready to bounce back to better form.

Those wanting to look beyond Son of Rocket will likely focus their attention on horses making their turf debut. Astrologist made quite an impression at Churchill this spring with back-to-back wins in allowance company, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in the latter. He is solidly bred for the turf being by Skywalker out of a Northern Baby mare.

The Missing Key, a stakes winner at Philadelphia Park last year and most recently second in a two-turn allowance at Monmouth, might be sitting on a big race as he makes his third start off a layoff. There is plenty of "green" in his pedigree and he worked a bullet three-eighths at Ellis earlier in the week.

Summarily, beaten less than a length in the Hopemont at Keeneland last October, is a solid turf runner but has started only once since the Hopemont.

- Vance Hanson

Louisiana: Good field of 3-year-old sprinters

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Triple Card, who recently set a track mark at Lone Star Park; Prince Slew, a multiple stakes winner who is undefeated here; and Joyful Tune, winner of four straight, head a stellar field for the Airline Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

The six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds carries a $40,000 purse and will be the seventh race on the program.

Triple Card, lowered the six-furlong record at Lone Star in the C. McGregor Stakes to 1:08.06 on May 28. Trained by Eddie Milligan, Triple Card showed tremendous potential late in his juvenile year as he won his debut by 13 lengths at Sam Houston. He then followed with two more victories, one in stakes company, before suffering his first defeat in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in March.

Following two more subpar performances, Triple Card received some freshening before making his smashing return at Lone Star. Proving that his McGregor was no fluke, he then overcame an awkward start to post yet another win in his most recent start.

Prince Slew ran his local record to a perfect 3 for 3 here on opening day when he won the Arcadia Stakes. Trained by Noral Tate, he has won 5 of his 8 career starts and earned over $160,000.

Joyful Tune has remained undefeated this year as he has rapidly gone through his connections. He has not been headed in four consecutive wins, all at Lone Star.

- Jeff Taylor

River Downs: Joanies Bella clear-cut choice

Joanies Bella is poised to win her first stakes in the $40,000 Tah Dah at River Downs . The 5 1/2-furlong stakes has attracted 11 Ohio-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Joanies Bella, a daughter of Mercer Mill, has a clear class and speed figure advantage over her rivals. Campaigned in open company in her first three starts, Joanies Bella won at first asking at Hawthorne in May, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 88. She regressed in her next two starts at Churchill, an allowance and the Grade 3 Debutante, but was facing the top fillies Cashier's Dream and Lakeside Cup in both.

The most likely upsetter is Crypto's Twinjet, who drew post 10. A seven-length winner against Ohio-bred maidens at River Downs on June 10, Crypto's Twinjet was a non-threatening fifth in her stakes debut at Thistledown two weeks ago. She will be a solid choice to round out the exacta.

- Vance Hanson