07/02/2006 11:00PM

Graded stakes previews for July 4


Belmont Park - Race 9
1 1/16 Miles
Dwyer Stakes (Grade 2)
Purse $150,000.

Strong Contender was hyped to the moon as a possible Kentucky Derby horse after an impressive allowance win at Gulfstream, but he was well-beaten in the Blue Grass, and only raced evenly in the Peter Pan. He seems to have found a good spot in the Dwyer, however, and should sit a nice stalking trip behind a plethora of speed. The lightly-raced colt has some upside, and reunites with Edgar Prado on Tuesday. A string of long workouts should have Strong Contender ready to run a solid race, and he looms a major danger from just off the pace.
Dontfearthereaper boasts improving Beyer Speed Figures, and is another that would benefit from a hot pace. He was outrun in the early stages of his recent sprint run, and was under the whip three furlongs from home, but he rallied nicely for the place, and acts like he'll appreciate the added distance. Dontfearthereaper owns the best last Beyer Speed Figure, and should offer some value.
Keyed Entry found the Derby distance too much for him to overcome on the first Saturday in May, but he should like cutting back to a one-turn route, and he'll be prominent from the opening bell. He'll have to deal with Da Stoops early, however, and may be under the gun from his inside post. Keyed Entry has yet to win a route race, and may be overbet.
Da Stoops draws nicely outside the other speeds, but he has to deal with a cross-country trip and a hike up the class ladder. Regent Spirit and Doc Cheney both hail from the Nick Zito barn, but both need to improve off their recent races to take these down.

1. Strong Contender
2. Dontfearthereaper
3. Keyed Entry

Monmouth Park - Race 9
1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
Boiling Springs Handicap (Grade 3)
3-year-old fillies
Purse $150,000.

Perilous Pursuit has taken her game to another level this season, and will make the important third start of the form cycle in the Boiling Springs. Although she finished up on her wrong lead when winning the Late Bloomer at Belmont last time out, she should get plenty of pace to attack, and looks like a strong stretch threat under Jose Santos.
Pat Biancone is having a fantastic year with his turf runners, and Stadore returns to her preferred surface after chasing the tough Wait a While in the Sands Point on dirt. She won her North American debut two back at Churchill Downs despite switching to her wrong lead at the eighth pole, and is another that should relish the pace scenario. She draws outside, but high-percentage rider Leparoux should be able to save some ground near the back of the pack.
Ebony Rose didn't seem comfortable over "good" turf last time. She stalked the pace while between runners, but never kicked into another gear. She goes third off the bench for Todd Pletcher, and projects for a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip.
The beautifully-bred Mama Nadine makes her turf debut for Pletcher. She has good speed, and should be near the front early.
Quite a Bride has been very visually impressive since switching to the turf three back, but will likely have to adopt unfamiliar rating tactics.
Somethinaboutbetty blew a big late lead in her turf debut, and will be part of a crowded pace picture along with No Reason and Stolen Prayer.

1. Perilous Pursuit (Exacta Box)
2. Stadore
3. Ebony Rose

Hollywood Park - Race 8
6 Furlongs
Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (Grade 3)
Purse $100,000.

The athletic Diamond Dave has been well-bet for both lifetime starts, and he absolutely demolished maidens last time out. Trained by Doug O'Neill, the son of Bernstein will face lots of pace pressure on Tuesday, but P. Val will likely have him in the thick of things turning for home.
E Z Warrior cost $1.2 million earlier this year, and certainly looked the part in his debut for Bob Baffert. After breaking a beat slowly from his inside post, E Z Warrior scooted up to make the lead, and drew off without feeling the sting of the whip. He'll need an alert break from the inside post in the Hollywood Juvenile, but he has lots of potential, and looms the one to beat.
If the pace is swift, then Great Hunter may be the one to benefit the most. The son of Aptitude swept by the field to take his maiden at Lone Star on June 8, and was flattered when three of his rivals that day came back to win. He'll likely have a say in the outcome with a strong stretch flurry.
Northern California invader Youandiatdelmar leads the pace charge, but should feel pressure from the top two selections as well as Swiss Stiffer and Hot Rod.

1. Diamond Dave (Exacta Box)
2. E Z Warrior
3. Great Hunter.