08/12/2004 12:00AM

Kitten's Joy can stand alone on top

Kevin Coady/Coady Photography
Kitten's Joy, winning the Virginia Derby, makes his Grade 1 debut in Saturday's Secretariat.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Nobody can fairly say that Kitten's Joy will not have earned his way to the top of the 3-year-old turf division. Having already won six races over five different turf courses, Kitten's Joy can become the unassailed divisional leader Saturday, when he ventures to yet another track, Arlington Park, to make his Grade 1 debut in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes.

, trained by Dale Romans, will easily be the heaviest favorite in the three International Festival of Racing events. Romans, who was scheduled to arrive here Friday from Saratoga, said he is extremely pleased with how Kitten's Joy has trained and he expects another top effort in the Secretariat.

"This is what we've been shooting at for a long time," said Romans. "He's been training great. We're looking forward to coming in for the race."

Kitten's Joy, a Kentucky-bred colt by El Prado, will break from post 1 in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat under Jerry Bailey.

Clearly, the unenviable quest for the other six 3-year-olds is to somehow hold off the reliable stretch run of Kitten's Joy. However difficult the task might seem, they are here from several venues to give it their all.

, an unbeaten Danzig colt trained by Bobby Frankel, is the most plausible upsetter. After winning his career debut at Hollywood in November, Greek Sun won the Hill Rise at Santa Anita in December, then had nearly six months off before capturing the Grade 3 Cinema Breeders' Cup at Hollywood in June.

"Honestly, every time I've run this horse I didn't think he'd win, but he has," said Frankel. "He's a real nice one. But on form, I don't know if anybody can beat [Kitten's Joy] right now. But you never know."

Two other Secretariat contenders are Simple Exchange and Cool Conductor, the one-two finishers here three weeks ago in the American Derby. Simple Exchange, an Irish-bred colt, proved very game in that race when tracking the pace before turning back Cool Conductor, a consistent colt trained by Bill Mott, in a prolonged drive.

The unknown quantity in the race is , an Aidan O'Brien-trained colt who arrived here Monday with several other European shippers. Although his overseas form suggests no such trouble, Moscow Ballet had his struggles Thursday, when he returned from a routine gallop on Arlington's five-furlong training track in an extremely agitated state. Virtually covered by a frothy lather, he was unruly for his handlers before finally being returned to his temporary home in the quarantine barn.

Completing the Secretariat field are Hazyview, a British colt with a 5-for-13 record, and Up Anchor, who was only a minor factor in the first two legs of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, the Arlington Classic and American Derby.

Both Moscow Ballet and Hazyview will be treated with the diuretic Lasix for the first time Saturday.

The Secretariat, the third and last Festival race, is carded as the 11th of 12 Saturday races and will be run after ABC Sports signs off its coverage of the two other Grade 1 races to be run here. Television Games Network will show the race live at 5:53 p.m. Central.

The field

Secretariat Stakes
Purse: $400,000; 1 1/4 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Kitten's JoyJ. Bailey1238-5
2HazyviewL. Dettori1199-2
3Greek SunE. Prado1213-1
4Up AnchorR. Douglas11930-1
5Cool ConductorP. Day1196-1
6Moscow BalletJ. Spencer1195-1
7 Simple ExchangeP. Smullen1266-1

* Track morning line odds
* Television: Saturday, TVG