07/01/2004 12:00AM

Fairmount: 'Bulldog' needs old form

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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - The outcome of Saturday's $30,000 Seattle Slew Handicap, a six-furlong race for 4-year-olds and upward at Fairmount Park, hinges on which Bulldog George emerges from the paddock: last fall's version, which posted three 100-plus Beyers in Chicago and Keeneland, or the 2004 version, which has yet to finish in the money versus less classy competition at Fairmount.

"If that horse fires, nobody's going to beat him," said Ralph Martinez, Fairmount's top trainer, who will saddle Moe B Dick (9-2 on the morning line), with leading jockey Ramsey Zimmerman aboard. "But he hasn't run that great lately. So, hopefully, the good Bulldog George won't show up."

When Bulldog George, the 2-1 favorite, is good, he's very good. But his recent struggles on Fairmount's dry dirt oval speak to why Moe B Dick's owner, Lou O'Brien, considers Fairmount to be the "toughest, cheapest track in the country" for classy shippers to win at.

Though he's beaten others in this field, Bulldog George has seemingly been unable to muster his best race versus Moe B Dick, who topped him in two races last summer at Fairmount before Bulldog George rounded into stakes-level form. But those were mile-plus routes, and Moe B Dick's only sprint in the last year was on a muddy Fairmount track in early April, when he faded to fourth.

Still, O'Brien says he likes his chances Saturday.

"It's a short field and he can handle the distance," said O'Brien. "He'll be competitive. Whether he can win or not, who knows? But he might surprise some people."