11/23/2006 12:00AM

Fishy Advice has numbers on his side


Trainer David Donk has no second thoughts about sending New York-based Fishy Advice to Maryland for Saturday's Laurel Turf Cup.

The purse is worthy at $100,000, but the field came up huge - 14 plus four also-eligibles - making for a crush of potential upsetters along with the risk of bad traffic.

"The more horses the better chance there'll be some pace, and that helps us," Donk said Thursday from New York.

The Turf Cup at 1 1/8 miles on grass is among seven six-figure stakes on Laurel's Fall Festival of Racing card, led by the De Francis Memorial Dash.

Fishy Advice comes off four straight Beyer Speed Figures of 99 or higher, all on the turf. The total number of triple-digit Beyers on turf for the 17 others entered in the race is five.

Fishy Advice has had 3 wins and 2 seconds in his last 5 starts. Two of the five were for purses twice as high as Saturday's, and a third was his loss by a head in the Knickerbocker at Aqueduct, a Grade 3.

Fortunately for Fishy Advice, he has early foot, because his post, 10, is treacherous at the distance on this course. In the last 10 years, 181 races have been run at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Laurel, and only 5 of 87 starters breaking from post 10 (6 percent) ended up winning.

Horses in posts 11 through 14 were even worse, winning 6 of 111 starts, 5 percent.

By contrast, posts 1 through 7 had 130 winners from 1,070 starters, an average of 12 percent, or double the success of the outside posts.

Fishy Advice's run to the first turn will be crucial. But he has made the lead by the first call in two of his last three starts, and led by the second call in all three. On top of that, only two runners with early speed break to his inside - Baron Von Trap, in post 1, and Tune of the Spirit, in post 8 - and neither is quite in his class.

"If we can sit just off a good pace, that would be best," Donk said.

If Fishy Advice fails, Bastille looks next best. He owns one triple-digit Beyer on turf, and he upset Fishy Advice at 9-1 by a head in the John Schapiro Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 23 over this course and distance.

Dreadnaught hasn't won since last November, and both Fishy Advice and Bastille beat him in the Schapiro. But three of his last eight Beyers are in the 100's, one a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga in August.

How the turf course will play is anyone's guess. Going into Friday, only five turf route races had been run on it in November. Two were won by horses on the pace at the first call, two by runners in midpack, and one by a closer.

It rained Thursday but the forecast was for warm, dry weather Friday and Saturday, and track officials expected the Turf Cup to stay on the grass.