11/20/2008 12:00AM

Klesaris pair look tough in stakes


Go ahead and pick your metaphor: Forty Thieves could steal away with victory, or Sunday Blitz could sack his opponents. The point is that trainer Steve Klesaris and owner Jeff Puglisi have a powerful coupled entry in the Old Hickory, one of two sprint stakes races for 2-year-olds on the Saturday card at Fair Grounds.

Cisco Torres was named to ride both halves of the entry, and Klesaris couldn't be reached Thursday afternoon, so we are left guessing about which colt will run, or even if both could start, but either horse would be formidable in this 5 1/2-furlong dirt race with a $60,000 purse.

At press time, neither colt showed a posted a work at Fair Grounds, but Forty Thieves just raced Nov. 2 at Aqueduct and Sunday Blitz raced the day after at Delaware, so fitness should not be an issue. Forty Thieves finished last of seven in his most recent outing, but that was the one-mile Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct, and he began his career with a pair of romping sprint wins. He captured a five-furlong Delaware maiden race in August and then came back to win the $200,000 NATC Futurity at Monmouth in September. He has speed and the rail, and Saturday's short-sprint trip should be ideal.

Sunday Blitz was not quite as precocious, requiring three attempts to clear the maiden ranks, but he might be more progressive than Forty Thieves. In his second start, Sunday Blitz came within a nose of the hot Larry Jones-trained 2-year-old Old Fashioned in a Delaware Park maiden race, and three weeks ago, he beat seven there in a decisive victory.

Among the seven others, Malibu Maverick looks best. He graduated over Arlington's Polytrack at the Old Hickory's 5 1/2-furlong distance, and - after starts at six furlongs and one mile - should appreciate getting back to a shorter distance.

The Old Hickory goes as race 7, and in race 9, 2-year-old fillies are up in the Pontalba, also at 5 1/2 furlongs. Two horses, Tiffany Royal and Kays and Jays, appear to stand out.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Tiffany Royal got started early, finishing third in a 4 1/2-furlong Keeneland baby race in April and winning by almost nine lengths in her second start, which came on May 10 at Churchill. Off until July, Tiffany Royal returned in a division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star and had an excuse for a third-place finish as the odds-on favorite.

"She shin-bucked," Asmussen explained, adding that Tiffany Royal "came back and ran a great race," winning another Texas Stallion Stakes on Oct. 4 at Retama, and that the filly "has trained well at Fair Grounds."

Tiffany Royal, with Luis Quinonez in to ride, breaks from the fence and should be difficult to beat at this short trip, but Kays and Jays has a chance. Her trainer, Bill Mott, already won two stakes last weekend at Fair Grounds, and the Mott barn has won with 3 of its first 4 Fair Grounds starters.

Second on dirt in her career debut at Saratoga, Kays and Jays won a turf-sprint maiden race there before finishing second by a neck in the filly division of the NATC Futurity at Monmouth, a race run in dense fog.

"I guess she handled the dirt well enough at Monmouth. That's the way it didn't look, at least," Mott joked. "All you could really see was a blur."

Kays and Jays, like Tiffany Royal, looks quick and handy, and Mott said he "thought the distance would suit her for sure."

Also worth considering is C Karma, whose last race came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, in which she finished eighth. C Karma, racing for owner-trainer Pamela Edel, was effective in sprint races over the Woodbine Polytrack, but never has started on dirt.