02/24/2010 12:00AM

Follow the Leader tries two turns


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Follow the Leader could be showing the way Thursday in the ninth race at Oaklawn, a first-level allowance for older horses at a mile. He is the lone starter in the field stretching out from a sprint. And it was a big effort.

Follow the Leader earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 when he won a six-furlong maiden special weight here Feb. 11. He sat about 1 1/2 lengths off an opening half-mile in 46.20 seconds, overtook the leaders, and opened up in the lane for a 4 3/4-length win. Follow the Leader covered the distance in 1:10.40.

"I couldn't have been more pleased with his race," said Lynn Whiting, who trains Follow the Leader for Charles Cella. "We always had a lot of high aspirations for this horse, felt like he was a top-class kind of horse, and I have every hope that he'll develop into a major player this year."

On Thursday, Follow the Leader will be making his first start at two turns. He will break from post 4, under Calvin Borel.

"There's a little bit of speed in there," Whiting said. "I would prefer to not use his speed, just let him kind of be in the race, let him learn. I thought Calvin did a really nice job with him the other day. He was close-up inside. He could have pressed the button and gone on. But he said he thinks this is a really good horse, let's give him a chance to learn, and eased him back off horses. He sat back there, and when he eased him out turning for home, he just blew by his opposition.

"Right now, I would just like to be patient, teach him the right way, not to get too aggressive. But if he leaves there running and he inherits the lead, I'm not going to take it away from him."

Follow the Leader is by Smarty Jones, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2004 after sweeping Oaklawn's series for 3-year-olds. Whiting feels that Follow the Leader will like the added distance Thursday.

"I think he's a two-turn horse that was masquerading as a sprinter the other day," he said.

Also on the card is a first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies led by Wild Forest Cat.

* There is a $14,162 pick-six carryover heading into the program Thursday.