08/17/2007 12:00AM

Flores has Becrux all figured out


DEL MAR, Calif. - After riding Becrux in three stakes this year, jockey David Flores found a winning formula. Keep it simple.

Becrux is a closer, occasionally prone to traffic problems, so Flores took the safest route in the restricted Wickerr Handicap on July 27. He guided Becrux wide and reached the front late.

Flores has the same strategy in mind when Becrux tries for his sixth stakes win in Sunday's $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf.

"Last time, I got a chance to let him run," Flores said. "He showed his ability. I'm very confident."

The stretch run of the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile could be a thriller. Becrux, and fellow closer Crossing the Line, will be trying to catch seven other rivals, including pacesetter Lang Field and the stalkers Out of Control and Captain Kurt.

The winner gets a berth in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Monmouth Park Oct. 27.

Flores admits he was frustrated that Becrux finished fourth in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and the Grade 2 American Handicap earlier this year at Hollywood Park. In the Shoemaker, Becrux was in traffic and did not have a chance to show his best in the stretch.

"The other two times I rode him, I was stuck inside," Flores said.

The Wickerr was Becrux's first win since the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Canada last September. In the Wickerr, he finished a neck in front of Del Mar Mile entrant Zann, who was a half-length in front of Lang Field.

"I got a better trip," Flores said. "I wanted to keep him in the clear. It made the difference."

Becrux and Crossing the Line should have a pace to follow. Lang Field is best when allowed to set the pace. Out of Control led to deep stretch of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap here on July 22 until After Market passed him and won by 1 1/2 lengths.

The Del Mar Mile will be the toughest race in Crossing the Line's career. A 5-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding, Crossing the Line has won 4 of 5 starts - two races in New Zealand last November, and two races at Hollywood Park earlier this summer.

Trainer John Sadler was encouraged by Crossing the Line's victory in a one-mile optional claimer on turf on July 4.

"These are fun horses to see if they can keep taking the steps," Sadler said. "He's had more spacing between races by design. We'll see how good he is."

Sadler described Crossing the Line's six-furlong workout on turf in 1:12.80 on Aug. 8 as "unbelievable."

Sunday's race is the first time that Garrett Gomez has ridden Crossing the Line. He replaces Joe Talamo, who rode Crossing the Line twice at Hollywood Park. Talamo has the mount on Zann.

To prepare Gomez, Sadler said he sent the New York-based jockey a DVD of Crossing the Line's races.

"Garrett is a natural come-from-behind jockey," Sadler said.

Out of Control merits respect. Trained by Bobby Frankel, he won his first stakes in the Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 30, outfinishing The Tin Man to win by a head. The Tin Man returned to finish second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 11.