11/04/2009 12:00AM

Iqbaal steps up in Pegasus


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Iqbaal has had only two starts but he could be ready for prime time, and he'll get a chance to prove it under the lights Friday in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands.

Iqbaal jumps up in class following an allowance win, but his Beyer Speed Figures and his tactical speed indicate he can handle this move into stakes company. A winner in a sprint in his career debut, Iqbaal was heavily bet last time in his first start against winners, despite the fact he was in against a deep first-level allowance field and had never been two turns. He ran to his backing, however, making that smart money look utterly brilliant when he sat nicely off the pace and powered to an easy win. That effort suggests he's up to the task in the Pegasus.

Eddie Castro, who rode Iqbaal to victory in both of his two starts, will again be aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

War Fighter, who is cross-entered in Saturday night's Mountaineer Mile in West Virginia, has been first or second in his last five starts, including two wins, and his second-place finish in the Ohio Derby last out indicates he's still in top form.

The Ohio Derby was his stakes debut, and he nearly pulled off the upset, setting the pace and yielding only late to prohibitive favorite Gone Astray. Daniel Centeno will ride War Fighter for the first time in the Pegasus.

While War Fighter has speed, the role of pacesetter is likely to go to Lord Justice. An A.P. Indy colt, Lord Justice also likes to be close in the early stages but, unlike War Fighter, he hasn't shown that he can effectively rate. Given the short field in the Pegasus, and his inside post, Lord Justice is likely to come out of the gate running. Chris DeCarlo, aboard for Lord Justice's last two wins, retains the mount.

Bunker Hill's lone win in nine starts this year came against three rivals in the Princeton Stakes, a race scheduled for the turf but switched to the sloppy main track here Oct. 16. Paco Lopez rides.

Bad Action does his best running on turf and on wet tracks, but he's in top form for trainer Gary Contessa.

Big Top, second in a Delaware Park entry-level allowance in his latest, rounds out the field.