10/26/2010 4:11PM

Just Ben's speed gives him the edge

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Just Ben appears to have a tactical advantage as the lone speed in Thursday’s featured eighth race, a $57,000 optional claimer at seven furlongs on the main track.

Just Ben was sidelined for 11 months after setting the pace and fading to fourth in the Gallant Bob Stakes last September, and returned in a turf sprint for Barclay Tagg earlier at the meet. He flashed considerable talent as a 3-year-old last year, winning a pair of allowance races on the front end with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, notably on the Belmont Stakes undercard, when he blazed seven furlongs in 1:21 to win off by nearly 14 lengths for former trainer Nick Zito.

Just Ben, a 4-year-old colt by Speightstown, will break from post 5 in a field of six. He has had four workouts since his comeback on turf Sept. 22, and retains Ramon Dominguez, who has long since wrapped up the fall title with a 20-win lead heading into the final week.

Among the five other sprinters, Desert Key and Peter’s Creek have the best early speed.

As a 3-year-old, Desert Key set the pace to the final strides of the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes before being nipped in the final strides by Kodiak Kowboy, last year’s champion sprinter. After being limited to two starts at age 4, Desert Key has run five times this season for Jimmy Jerkens. He stretches out after chasing the speedy Go Go Shoot in a six-furlong optional claimer three weeks ago.

Peter’s Creek has won three allowance races this year for Laurel-based trainer Mike Trombetta, who has saddled three ship-in dirt sprint winners at Belmont this fall. The 5-year-old gelding was within three lengths of the pace in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap last time out.

Peter’s Creek is entered for the $75,000 claim price, as are stretch-runners Laysh Laysh Laysh and Starforaday.

Laysh Laysh Laysh returned from a layoff to win a $35,000 claimer first out at the meet. He has trained well since then for Rick Dutrow Jr., including an in-company work with Breeders’ Cup-bound stablemate Boys At Tosconova.

Starforaday, the lone entrant to have run a triple-digit Beyer this year, rallied late to edge Desert Key for third in his first start at the meet for Gary Contessa.

Pulpit Point tries dirt for the first time for Godolphin Stable.