07/12/2006 11:00PM

Go Deputy set to clear old hurdle


ELMONT, N.Y. - Infirmities and a little bad luck have conspired to prevent Go Deputy from becoming a graded stakes winner to this point in his career. Now the healthiest he has ever been, according to his connections, the 6-year-old looks well spotted to earn that first stakes score in Saturday's $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park.

With Monmouth Park having put up $750,000 in last weekend's United Nations and Woodbine putting up $700,000 in next weekend's Northern Dancer, the Grade 2 Bowling Green, at 1 3/8 miles over the Widener Turf Course, drew what is left of the male turf marathoners based on the East Coast.

are multiple stakes winners who have each earned more than $1 million but who are both past their prime. Crown Point is 0 for 13 since winning the 2004 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont and has not been out since December. Gigli, a Grade 1 winner in Chile, is 0 for 12 in this country. Leadwithyourchin is making his stakes debut.

Go Deputy, a son of Deputy Minister, has been beaten a total of four lengths in four stakes tries this year, including a neck loss to Einstein in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in February.

"He was unlucky when he got beat in the Grade 1," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Einstein kind of got loose on the lead [through] dawdling fractions and we had to make a real early move down the backside to try to make up for being far back off slow fractions."

Since then, Go Deputy finished third in the Pan American and second in the Elkhorn at Keeneland. The Elkhorn, on April 28, was Go Deputy's seventh race in six months, which precipitated Pletcher to freshen the horse up.

On several previous occasions, Go Deputy would make Pletcher stop on him.

"He's a horse that's had some physical issues along the way," Pletcher said. "He had surgery once and then he had to have time off for the same injury. But right now, knock on wood, he's the soundest he's ever been and training as good as he ever has or better.''

The biggest obstacle facing Go Deputy is the apparent lack of pace in the Bowling Green. None of the six horses wants the lead, and it's anyone's guess who will set the pace.