04/23/2008 11:00PM

J Be K may just be uncatchable


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Despite its Grade 3 status and the fact it is worth 50 percent more money than the listed Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, Saturday's $150,000 Withers Stakes for 3-year-olds managed only to draw a field of four. The Derby Trial drew 10.

The presence of the speedy J Be K in the Withers field could be the primary reason.

J Be K, who is 3 for 3 in races run around one turn, figures an odds-on choice against Harlem Rocker, Face the Cat, and Double or Nothing. The Withers will go as race 3 on a 10-race card that includes the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay Handicap for fillies and mares on turf.

J Be K, trained by Steve Asmussen, showed no ill effects from his eighth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby - a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race - when he romped to a five-length victory in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at seven furlongs here on April 5. In that race, J Be K appeared relaxed while pressing Go Go Shoot though solid fractions before drawing clear for the authoritative victory.

"He's very fast, but he's unbelievably relaxed," Asmussen said. "He's not an aggressive work horse. I see how the blinkers got put on him. He's very laid-back, completely easy to be around. The one-turn mile, with his ability and acceleration, is attractive."

J Be K, who looks like the controlling speed in the Withers, breaks from post 2 under Garrett Gomez.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out Harlem Rocker and Face the Cat. Harlem Rocker, a Canadian-bred son of Macho Uno, has won both of his starts coming from well off the pace. In a first-level allowance race, he ran down Samba Rooster, who came back to finish second in last weekend's Lexington Stakes.

"It's going to be a challenge to run down a horse like [J Be K], but he's been very impressive in his first two starts," Pletcher said of Harlem Rocker, who is being pointed to the Queen's Plate at Woodbine.

Face the Cat, a son of Tale of the Cat, was beaten 20 lengths when eighth to Big Brown in the Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles. That was his first race for Pletcher, who was given the horse when Padua Stables bought majority interest in him following two victories at Gulfstream Park. Face the Cat showed speed winning a one-mile first-level allowance race by four lengths on Jan. 30.