06/05/2009 11:00PM

Hot pace likely in Stephens


ELMONT, N.Y. - To see the nation's fastest 3-year-old, tune in well before the Belmont Stakes as This Ones for Phil takes on eight other sprinters, including unbeaten graded stakes winners Hull and Everyday Heroes, in the $250,000 Woody Stephens.

The 25th running of the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, run as the Riva Ridge prior to 2006, is carded as race 8 and kicks off a $1 million-guaranteed pick four with the Acorn, Manhattan, and Belmont. Post time for the seven-furlong stakes is scheduled for 3:59 p.m.

In his first start for Rick Dutrow off an 11-week layoff, This Ones for Phil won the Sunshine Millions Dash with a Beyer Speed Figure of 115, the highest figure of 2009, bar none.

This Ones for Phil has subsequently run in three graded stakes with mixed results. He was surprisingly on the lead setting an enervating pace in the Fountain of Youth against Quality Road; he was placed first in the Swale after a bumping incident with Big Drama in track-record time; and trailed early before getting stuck in traffic and settling for second as the Withers favorite.

"I didn't like the way things went with him last time, no," Dutrow said of the Withers. "I don't know why he was dead last . . . in the Fountain of Youth I don't know why he was on the lead."

The lead figures to be hotly contested among some combination of Hello Broadway, who takes blinkers off after going way too fast early in the Peter Pan; Hull, who is perfect from three starts and bypassed the Preakness after winning the Derby Trial; and Everyday Heroes, a 4-for-4 colt who was purchased by Darley Stable after winning the Hirsch Jacobs with a 106 Beyer.

Everyday Heroes was to be coupled with Godolphin's Regal Ransom, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, but that horse was scratched Saturday with a tendon injury and will get time off, according to assistant trainer Rick Mettee.

Munnings, second in the Champagne and third in the Hopeful, makes his second start of the year after a sharp allowance tune-up. Gone Astray, Triumphant Flight, and Kensei round out the field.