10/04/2007 12:00AM

Gouldings Green tough to beat on dirt

EmailIf Gouldings Green has not forgotten how to handle dirt, he will be a major player in the $100,000 Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park, the highlight of the Indiana Derby undercard.

Gouldings Green has raced on Polytrack in his last six starts stretching back to September 2006, and while a two-time stakes winner on that surface, his record on dirt is more likely to intimidate his rivals. In four dirt starts last year, Gouldings Green won stakes at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, and Woodbine, and was third in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

The Schaefer Mile also marks the return to Hoosier of Cielo Gold, who finished in a dead heat for first with Star Dabbler in the 2006 Indiana Derby. Cielo Gold's only start since the Indiana Derby was a sixth last month in the Turfway Fall Championship, his first race over Polytrack and a race he undoubtedly needed after being away 11 months.

Others of note in the Schaefer are Simon Pure, third in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt at Saratoga; the Illinois-bred veteran Wiggins; sprint specialist Trickey Trevor; and the 2006 Ohio Derby winner Deputy Glitters, who has fallen on hard times this season.

Grissom: Liepers Fork vs. Father John

A field of 11 was entered for the $45,000 Gus Grissom Stakes for Indiana-bred colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles, but the race should come down to either Liepers Fork or Father John, who finished one-two in the William Henry Harrison Stakes at Indiana Downs in May.

Liepers Fork, third in the 2006 Gus Grissom, swept both major statebred stakes for older horses during the Indiana Downs meet. Two starts after catching Father John in the final strides of the six-furlong Harrison, Liepers Fork benefited when the A.J. Foyt Stakes was switched from turf to dirt to score at 8-1.

Father John finally got his first win of the year in an allowance at Hoosier in his most recent start. He will need to harness his speed more effectively than he did in the Foyt, where he pressed a quick pace, allowing Liepers Fork to pick up the pieces. Father John wound up sixth, eight lengths behind Liepers Fork, in the Foyt.

* The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved racing dates for 2008 during a Sept. 27 meeting. Indiana Downs, which raced 48 days this year, will conduct a 54-day Thoroughbred meet from April 25 through July 8. Hoosier Park, scheduled to run 61 days this fall, will host a 63-day meet from Aug. 29 through Nov. 23.