05/14/2008 11:00PM

Force Freeze, Lantana Mob strong in Jacobs

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Central to the handicapping puzzle inherent to the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes are the goings-on at Oaklawn Park over the winter. To wit, did Force Freeze and Lantana Mob run so well that they stand out over the rest of the seven 3-year-olds entered in the six-furlong Hirsch Jacobs, or can horseplayers take their superior Beyer Speed Figures with a grain of salt, most notably in light of the change of venue?

On paper, at least, Force Freeze and Lantana Mob look like the logical plays in the Jacobs (race 9, post time 3:44 p.m. Eastern), a $100,000 race that starts a $1 million guaranteed pick four that ends with the Preakness. Force Freeze, shipping in from Lone Star Park for trainer Allen Milligan, has won 3 of 4 starts, all with 94-plus Beyers, with his only defeat coming to Lantana Mob in the April 6 Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn. Lantana Mob, from the Steve Asmussen powerhouse stable, earned a 100 Beyer in that triumph.

If those horses prove fallible, the Jacobs could fall any number of ways. Commandeered looked terrific in returning from a seven-month layoff in taking a Keeneland maiden race last month. Sheeler comes off a stakes win, albeit in restricted company, over this same Pimlico surface. Shoe Freak Marlene owns three career wins, all at prices ($120, $14.40, and $33), and would seem hard to completely dismiss. And Silver Edition, a beaten favorite behind Force Freeze earlier in the season, comes off a rousing allowance triumph on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs.

Completing the field are Loveyouintheworld, Izzy Speaking, and Indy Joe.