10/08/2007 11:00PM

Excessive Heat put to distance test

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Even though he is a professional horse trainer, Larry Rivelli will share at least one thing in common with the many novices in attendance Thursday at Keeneland.

That is, Rivelli will merely be guessing whether Excessive Heat will be able to run far enough, fast enough, when she stretches out in the Thursday feature, the $150,000 Jessamine Stakes.

"It's hard to say what she's going to do," said Rivelli. "We definitely know she's a good sprinter. Whether she can go long, we'll just have to wait and see."

Therein lies one of the many puzzling aspects to the deep and evenly matched field of 2-year-old fillies in the Jessamine, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that brings a plethora of unknowns to the handicapping table. Excessive Heat already has won two stakes on turf, which is considerably more than can be said for her 11 opponents, but the catch is that both were minor sprint stakes at Calder.

"We've been trying to stretch her out in her training, and it looks like she might have some stamina in her pedigree on her mother's side," said Rivelli. "But we're just taking a shot, seeing if she can do this. There really aren't any sprints on the grass for her until the end of the year, so we thought we might as well try."

Excessive Heat, with Elvis Trujillo to ride, will break from post 8 in the Jessamine County, which goes as the eighth of nine Friday races. Only one of her challengers, Lickety Lemon, has won more than once, although several others already have been tried in stakes company. As such, Lickety Lemon, in from Canada for veteran trainer Mark Casse, looks like the most logical candidate to pass and beat Excessive Heat, while Pretty Persuasion, Mine or Who's, and Love Buzz also merit a look if only because of their respectable, if limited, efforts in stakes company.

Recent maiden winners who also figure to draw play include Placia, Palace Secret, Grape Cottage, and Wind in My Wings.

One race earlier, an interesting co-feature will match 3-year-old Loose Leaf against six older rivals in a $60,000 allowance at seven furlongs on Polytrack.

Two starts back, Loose Leaf exploded to win a restricted stakes at Saratoga to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. He regressed when he finished far behind Street Sense in the Travers but shows a solid workout pattern at Churchill Downs since then. Robby Albarado has the mount for trainer Ken McPeek.