10/08/2003 11:00PM

Kicken Kris has leg up on field


ELMONT, N.Y. - As the only stakes winner in the nine-horse field, Kicken Kris figures to rule a strong favorite in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap at Belmont Park.

Kicken Kris, who has not been worse than second in six career turf tries, won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August before finishing second to Stroll in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont last month. In the Jamaica, Kicken Kris was wide around both turns while racing closer to the pace than trainer Michael Matz would have liked. He fell two lengths shy of Stroll, who got a rail-skimming ride under Jerry Bailey.

Stroll won't be in the Belmont starting gate Saturday, and will run in the Calder Derby instead.

Matz believes Kicken Kris will enjoy the 1 1/2 miles of the Lawrence Realization and expects a solid effort. Javier Castellano rides Kicken Kris, a 121-pound highweight, from post 4.

"I think a mile and a half is real good for him," Matz said. "He handled the mile and a quarter really well. [Castellano] will be able to sit with him a little bit and wait for the right time to move."

Go Deputy, trained by Todd Pletcher, looks the most intriguing of the rest of the field. Go Deputy is a half-brother to Dare and Go - who is best known for ending Cigar's 16-race winning streak in the Pacific Classic - and has won his last two starts on the turf.

"He doesn't particularly have a turf pedigree but he's got a big flat foot on him," Pletcher said. "He acts like one of those horses that wants to run all day."

Norberto Arroyo rides Go Deputy. Arroyo has not ridden since suffering a fractured skull in a spill on June 15.

Trainer Christophe Clement will send out the uncoupled entry of Devils Peak and Saint Stephen. Devils Peak won his maiden by a neck in a nine-furlong race on Sept. 20 and Clement believes he should relish 1 1/2 miles.

Saint Stephen won his maiden at 1 1/4 miles over the Belmont turf in June and was good enough to run third behind Stroll in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. In his last start, he set the pace until the deep stretch when he was run down by Rowans Park.

Rowans Park, who finished 8 1/2 lengths behind Kicken Kris in the Virginia Derby, is the only proven horse in the field at 1 1/2 miles. He could be the one to catch under Aaron Gryder.