05/17/2007 12:00AM

Father John faces older


Father John, a leading 3-year-old Indiana-bred, has started as the odds-on favorite in all five of his career starts, but that streak might come to an end when he steps up to face

11 older statebred rivals in the $45,000 William Henry Harrison at Indiana Downs.

Though deserving of the parimutuel support he has received thus far, Father John comes into the Harrison with two second-place

finishes in his last three starts. What Father John lacks in invincibility, however, he makes up for in speed, and bettors might still favor him to lead his opposition gate-to-wire, though not quite so heavily as in the past.

Vying for favoritism will be Unjust, a 4-year-old gelding based in Kentucky with trainer Paul McGee. Unjust enters off a nose defeat in an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs, where he earned a competitive 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

Indy Energy counted the Harrison among his nine victories in 2006, one of the highest win totals of any Thoroughbred in North America last year. Now 8, he has placed only three times in six starts this year and appears far removed from his peak form.

Play Smart, third in the Gus Grissom Stakes at Hoosier Park last fall, finished behind Father John in a recent allowance after a slow start, but has a license to improve in his second start back from a winter break. Ambassador Jack has been working well for his first start since February.