03/18/2009 11:00PM

Jack Spratt figures to rebound in Lane's End


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The virtues of the favorites in Saturday's Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park are clear. The 5-2 morning-line favorite, Bittel Road, has run competitively behind Pioneerof the Nile in major races on the West Coast this winter. And 3-1 second favorite West Side Bernie also enters the race in good form, plus is a winner over the track, having won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway last fall.

Yet despite their strengths, an upset could be in the making in the Lane's End - because 8-1 longshot Jack Spratt looks ready to jump up with a peak effort.

The reason? A switch from dirt to a synthetic track.

Jack Spratt, badly outrun when eighth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on the Gulfstream main track, has the pedigree to move up racing over Polytrack. He is by Candy Ride, a rising young star in the stallion ranks whose offspring have shown an affinity for synthetic surfaces.

Keeping in mind that Candy Ride's first runners are merely 3-year-olds this year, consider just two of the synthetic performers he has sired. There is Chocolate Candy, recent winner of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, and Evita Argentina, a filly who beat the boys in the Grade 2 San Vincente at Santa Anita.

Chocolate Candy and Evita Argentina are not alone in being offspring of Candy Ride that have taken to the synthetic tracks. Three other of his offspring have won races on all-weather tracks this year, contributing to Candy Ride's trailing only Tapit among second-year sires by 2009 progeny earnings over all-weather tracks.

Beyond pedigree, there is more evidence to suggest Jack Spratt should rebound from his Fountain of Youth debacle and like Polytrack. In winning a couple of races on grass, including the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park this winter, he showed the stretch acceleration that often leads to success on all-weather tracks.

Admittedly, Jack Spratt was beaten in his lone try over Polytrack last September at Turfway, but it was far from a bad race. Blocked behind horses and taking kickback in his face for much of the race, he had a rough trip but finished well to be second once in the clear on the outside.

A much better horse than he was six months ago for a sharp trainer in Mike Maker, Jack Spratt should turn in a vastly improved effort this time under Julien Leparoux, who is 2 for 3 riding the colt.

No Inflation will close in Rushaway

A race earlier on the card, No Inflation merits play in the Rushaway Stakes. Coming off an easy win in a turf allowance at Tampa Bay Downs, he is moved back to a synthetic track for the Rushaway.

The last and only time he raced on Polytrack, he won a maiden race over Keeneland's surface last fall. Restrained at the back of the pack, he fought jockey Calvin Borel, tossing his head and leaving his supporters with the impression they would be tossing their tickets.

Instead of quitting, he responded late, passing the entire field with the kind of turn of foot that is present in a quality synthetic performer.

A more settled horse without blinkers, he will hopefully relax under Cornelio Velasquez behind what should be a quick pace. Then look for him to run down his opponents, as he did at Keeneland last fall.

Rudy Flyer could relax in Hansel

Like the Rushaway, the Hansel at Turfway appears inundated with speed, likely setting the race up for an off-the-pace runner in the six-furlong dash. In light of this, the betting public will likely jump all over King Puma, a stalker and successful synthetic performer.

But I also see another horse as able to handle coming from off the pace - that being Rudy Flyer. Although he has always raced close to the pace, last time out in a first-level allowance he was relaxed under John McKee and finished powerfully once called upon at the top of the stretch.

Drawn outside the other speed in the Hansel, McKee can sit chilly on Rudy Flyer, giving his mount his best chance at success. And having run Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-80s over this strip, Rudy Flyer has shown that he is fast enough to win.