09/11/2002 11:00PM

'Farmer' ready to make hay


SALEM, N.H. - Only three of the seven entrants in Saturday's $25,000 Floyd Duncan Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds have won. As a result, handicapping the race is a tall task.

Farmer Inthe Dell is the likely favorite despite having lost his only race. His second-place finish last month was filled with trouble, but he ended up with a Beyer Speed Figure of 65. In this field of babies, that stands out as the top figure.

Farmer Inthe Dell finished just a length off the winner, Formal Escape, despite traffic trouble in the stretch. He takes a second swing for one of the highest-percentage trainers in the region, John Rigatteri. Throw in a first dose of Lasix and the hot-riding Dyn Panell and Farmer Inthe Dell should be even stronger this time.

The main rival will likely be Jewels Rocket, who won his only start wire to wire but didn't run as fast as Farmer Inthe Dell. Trained by Mary Cameron, Jewels Rocket romped by more than nine lengths at 8-1 and has a chance to dictate the pace in this six-furlong race.

Ivan's Song hasn't raced since

July 21, but is the only runner who has won and had more than one start. Since winning a 4 1/2-furlong race, Ivan's Song has trained very well. Trainer Jennifer Hayford added blinkers and Lasix since his last race, and Ivan's Song has responded with two bullet workouts.

The only other runner with a victory is Quick Run, who won his only start Sept 1. His trainer, Karl Grusmark, has been one of the hottest conditioners on the grounds. Quick Run will need to improve on a modest 42 Beyer Speed Figure, but gets Lasix for a trainer known for taking time to develop potential stars.

Because none of the horses in the field have won more than one race, it's unlikely the Duncan will provide a definitive juvenile champion for the region as it has in the past. Until the past few seasons, the Duncan has served as a chance to crown the summer's best rookie.

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