10/07/2009 11:00PM

Impossible to ignore No Inflation in turf derby


STICKNEY, Ill. - No Inflation carries top weight of 122 pounds in the Grade 3, $200,000 Hawthorne Derby on turf Saturday. On paper, he also is the 800-pound gorilla among 10 entered in the race.

No Inflation has faced better horses while running in stronger races than any of the 3-year-olds entered against him. And after a close-but-no-cigar stakes campaign, No Inflation won the Grade 3 Kent over the Delaware Park turf course Sept. 5 by more than six lengths, staying the nine-furlong distance he's asked to negotiate again Saturday.

No Inflation's connections, owner-breeder Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor, appear to have targeted this race since the Kent, since No Inflation shipped back to Chicago and has posted three recent Arlington workouts.

What's not to like? Well, for one thing, the price, since No Inflation could dip as low as even money. And there are a couple of other things to consider. Only four other horses raced in the Kent, and second-place Out At Night also is back in the Hawthorne Derby. Out At Night is all right on turf, but not long ago was tagged in a maiden-claimer for just $10,000, and has never won a stakes race.

In other words, the 2009 Kent might not have been the strongest edition ever. One more thing: No Inflation has raced once a month since February, a long time without a break from the daily grind of full-bore training.

No Inflation led all the way through a moderate pace at Delaware but is unlikely to have an early lead with the filly Romacaca in the Hawthorne Derby. Romacaca failed to stay nine furlongs in the Pucker Up but held on for second after setting a fast pace. Post 2 on Saturday is a much better draw for her than post 11 was in the Pucker Up.

Like No Inflation, second-tier contenders Jack Spratt, Quite a Handful, and Proceed Bee have been racing steadily since spring, and it could pay to dig a little deeper than them.

WinStar Farm and trainer Shannon Ritter have a coupled entry. Cosmic King has only a $40,000 maiden-claiming win to his credit but was third in Arlington allowance company last out. Empty Handed won a turf allowance at Arlington and had no pace at which to run when he was a close fourth in an overnight grass stakes there last month.