09/01/2005 12:00AM

Icy Cat goes for hot barn


Gary Capuano is noted for running a high-percentage stable in Maryland, but rarely bothers to run his horses at the short meet on Timonium's bullring. When he does, watch out.

Over the past five years, Capuano is 9 for 20 at Timonium. In sprint races, he is an even more impressive 7 for 11 with a sterling $6.44 return on investment. Those statistics include victories in the last three runnings of the Alma North Stakes.

Capuano will try to capture the Alma North for the fourth consecutive year on Saturday, with the 4-year-old filly Icy Cat. The $50,000 stakes, restricted to Maryland-bred fillies and mares, is now a two-turn sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs after being contested at 1 1/16 miles as recently as 2003.

Although Icy Cat is 0 for 1 at Timonium, she is a proven commodity in two-turn sprint races. Since March 2004, she has made six starts racing around two turns in extended sprints at Charles Town, winning twice and picking up a second and a third. In her most recent start, returning from a nearly two-month layoff, Icy Cat rallied from 7 1/2 lengths back to get up by a nose going seven furlongs.

Another Charles Town regular, Leavn Ona Jetplane, could be Icy Cat's chief challenger. The 5-year-old Leavn Ona Jetplane has been first or second in her last four starts, all two-turn sprints against open allowance company. She has been freshened since holding on for a neck victory going 6 1/2 furlongs on July 24.

Grant's Moon shortens up for a rare sprint attempt after a nose victory going 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 10 at Delaware Park, her first start since April. The last time Grant's Moon, 5 for 11 lifetime, cut back in distance, she finished second in the seven-furlong Maryland Million Lassie at Laurel.

The field also includes Spirited Game, second in last year's Alma North, and Experts Only, fourth in this race last year and coming off a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure going seven furlongs at Charles Town.