05/12/2006 12:00AM

Graded stakes preview for May 13


Race 8 Belmont
Bold Ruler Handicap (Grade 3)
6 Furlongs
3-year-olds and up
Purse $100,000

Only five horses are scheduled to meet the starter in the Bold Ruler, but all are currently in excellent form, and are capable of putting on a good show on Saturday. Tiger earned a whopping 111 Beyer Speed Figure in his most recent outing, and was flattered when third-finisher Introspect returned to win a 'N3X' optional claimer with a 91 Beyer. Tiger may have been aided by a speed-favoring track that day, but he's put up big numbers since reuniting with trainer Jimmy Jerkens, and may sit a good trip outside of the other speeds.
Pisgah broke the 6 furlong track record at Delaware in his last start, and was given a 112 Beyer for his effort. He could be the speed of the speed for Scott Lake, but he also raced over a speed-biased surface in his Bold Ruler prep. He often breaks a beat slowly, and with other speed horses surrounding him, it is imperative that he leaves the gate well.
Bishop Court Hill should appreciate turning back to 6 furlongs after almost blowing a clear lead in the Grade 1 Carter at 7 furlongs. He finished ahead of Sir Greeley in the Carter, and that one came back to win the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap with a 109 Beyer. Bishop Court Hill draws inside of his main pace rivals, and will have to hustle from the gate to obtain his usual forward position. The Carter was .87 seconds slower than the Grade 3 Bay Shore for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs contested earlier on the April 8 card at Aqueduct.
Papua failed for a 50K tag in his last start, but would benefit from a speed duel and a wet track. Dark Cheetah goes out for high-percentage connections, and may sit a nice trip just off the fast pace. He's faced good horses this year, but couldn't fend off Introspect in a tough effort just 10 days ago.

1. Tiger
2. Pisgah
3. Bishop Court Hill

Race 3 Hollywood
Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (Grade 2)
1 1/16 Miles
3-year-olds and up
Purse $150,000

Keep On Punching ran a pair of bang-up races over this course and distance in 2005, and although he seems to have tailed off form, the son of Silver Deputy suffered from a tough trip last time out, and may be an overlay in the Mervyn LeRoy. In the Cougar II Handicap at Hollywood on April 26, Keep On Punching broke sharply, but was wrangled back to last by Alex Solis while racing on the inside. He then made a solid midrace bid while three wide before understandably tiring in the stretch. Keep On Punching will get a rider switch to Pat Valenzuela on Saturday, and will make the important third start of the form cycle. He has the tactical speed to utilize stalking tactics while racing in the clear.
Surf Cat looms the horse to beat as he seeks his fourth straight win, and he boasts the two sprints to a route angle while making his third start of the year. Surf Cat is a Grade 2 winner around two turns, and may prove hard to catch from his inside post. He's very logical, but will also be bet heavily.
Gallardo never did any running over a wet-fast surface last time out, but he may have "bounced" making his second start off the layoff following a career-best Beyer. A repeat of that 101 number of March 16 would put him in the hunt.
Spellbinder has speed, and may attempt to make things difficult for Surf Cat early. Dixie Meister goes out for live barn, and shows a sharp bullet workout on his page. Timias picks a tough spot for his dirt debut.

1. Keep On Punching
2. Surf Cat
3. Gallardo

Race 6 Hollywood
Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (Grade 2)
1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
3-year-olds and up
Purse $250,000.

Runaway Dancer didn't pick up his feet in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap on April 8, but should appreciate stretching back out to twelve furlongs. His last two races look like prep runs for the Jim Murray, and he absolutely rolled off moderate fractions to win this race last. He should have plenty of foundation as he makes the third start of his form cycle, and figures to be charging late despite the absence of speed runners.
Grey Swallow earned gaudy Timeform ratings in Europe, and was bounced around a bit in the Canadian International. He hasn't raced since October, but the 2004 Irish Derby winner has some tactical speed, and he classes up very well with these.
King's Drama may find himself on the lead in this relatively paceless event, and he won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga in gate-to-wire fashion at this distance last year. He's been in excellent form since returning from a disappointing run in the Japan Cup, and looks like the one to down.
One Off and Macduff will start for the red-hot Neil Drysdale. The former looks like the stronger on paper as he rallied nicely to place in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano last time out. Like Runaway Dancer, he'll need a bit of pace and some racing luck.
Golden Rahy seems a bit off form while Brecon Beacon takes a big step up in class.

1. Runaway Dancer
2. Grey Swallow
3. King's Drama

Race 9 Hollywood
Los Angeles Times Handicap (Grade 3)
6 Furlongs
3-year-olds and up
Purse $100,000

Cigar Pal rushed up from the rail to engage in a three-ply speed duel on April 15, and kept on nicely to post a solid allowance score. The Cal-bred prepped for the LA Times 'Cap with a bullet 5 furlong workout, and shouldn't be too far off the pacesetters when they turn for home. This will be the toughest test to date for Cigar Pal, but the lightly-raced runner may still have some upside.
Thunder Touch is a graded stakes winner, and he put up very competitive Beyers on the East Coast last year. Now with Vladimir Cerin, Thunder Touch projects to trip out nicely from his far outside post under Victor Espinoza, and should settle into a stalking position entering the turn.
Areyoutalkintome looks like he may shake loose under P. Val, and he should relish turning back from 7 1/2 furlongs. Areyoutalkintome owns solid speed figures, and could prove tough to catch.
Siren Lure attempts to repeat the turf to dirt, second off the layoff pattern that resulted in his Daytona Handicap win two back. Oceanus is a late-runner prone to finishing on the bottom of exotics. Pure as Gold may be better on the turf. Secret Ridge must improve off his North American debut while Prorunner steps up following an upset win at Turf Paradise.

1. Cigar Pal
2. Thunder Touch
3. Areyoutalkintome

Race 8 Lone Star
Walmac Lone Star Derby (Grade 3)
1 1/16 Miles
Purse $300,000

Wanna Runner can get a bit aggressive coming out of the gate, but he harnessed his speed well enough to beat a weak field in the WinStar Derby, and he should make the front from his inside post on Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert has been realistic with this second-tier 3-year-old, and he found another good spot for his charge at Lone Star.
Admiral's Arch finally broke a streak of runnerup finishes with his win in the Northern Spur at Oaklawn, and new blinkers may have allowed him to focus better on the task at hand. He'd benefit if his uncoupled stablemate, Rain On Monday, applies pace pressure to Wanna Runner.
Red Raymond chased Lawyer Ron in vain this spring at Oaklawn, but he finds an easier spot on Saturday, and should be running hard late. He impressed with his runner-up effort in the Rebel two back, and needs only some pace help to thrust him into contention.
Mr. Pursuit must make up five lengths on Admiral's Arch in order to win this while Wait in Line's Beyers pale in comparison to those of the top contenders.

1. Wanna Runner
2. Admiral's Arch
3. Red Raymond