07/16/2004 12:00AM

'Drummer' goes long again

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Although he has consistently picked up small pieces of purses in graded stakes, Dashboard Drummer hasn't won a race since last August.

Trainer Allen Iwinski remains optimistic Dashboard Drummer will tap his unfulfilled potential in Sunday's Grade 3, $250,000 Leonard Richards, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. The Richards is one of three stakes on the Delaware Handicap undercard.

"He's probably a better sprinter," Iwinski said of Dashboard Drummer, whose most impressive performance came at 2 when he won the Grade 3 Sapling, a six-furlong race at Monmouth Park. "He is so easy to rate that we wanted to try and stretch him out."

The results have been mixed. Dashboard Drummer's best performance this year came when he finished second, beaten less than two lengths, in the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard. The winner, Royal Assault, went on to finish third in the Belmont Stakes.

regressed in his next start, finishing a distant fourth of 11 in the Ohio Derby after making a mid-race move to get within 2 1/2 lengths of the leader. Iwinski said he feels his horse could have done better with a cleaner trip.

"Going into the first turn, it was a cavalry charge and he got shuffled back to dead last," Iwinski said. "He eased up, made his move, and it looked he was going to run by them at the head of the lane. He ran up to them and he just kind of hung and flattened out when they took off running down the stretch. He needs to be close to the pace. Then he will be fine, like in the Sir Barton."

The horse Dashboard Drummer must beat in the Richards is Pollard's Vision, the runner-up in the Ohio Derby and winner of the Illinois Derby. He carries high weight of 122 pounds, including Jerry Bailey.

, a New York-based horse trained by Nick Zito, also looks dangerous. He returns to Delaware after easily winning an overnight stakes at the track on June 22.

* Ebony Breeze, winner of the My Juliet at Philadelphia Park in her last start, will try to catch front-runner Bronze Abe, winner of two stakes in a row at Delaware, in the $100,000 Light Hearted Handicap, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares.

* In Hand, a winner over a yielding surface going 12 furlongs two starts ago, and the 8-year-old Rochester, second against Grade 3 stakes company in Kentucky in his last two starts, appear formidable in the $50,000 Cape Henlopen at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.