07/18/2001 11:00PM

Ellis: Slight edge to Son of Rocket

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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.