10/18/2006 11:00PM

Kong the King bears watching in 2nd start


Kong the King has run only once in his career, so it's way too early to label the 2-year-old son of Storm Boot as a candidate for next spring's Triple Crown series. But if he runs a big race in Saturday's $100,000 Dover Stakes at Delaware Park, Kong the King might be worth following.

Between 1950 and 1978, four horses who ran first or second in the Dover went on to capture the Kentucky Derby the following May. More recently, Captain Bodgit won the 1996 Dover and finished second in the 1997 Derby.

In addition, Kong the King is out of the mare Blue Ridge Miss, a daughter of 1981 Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony.

Trainer Steve Klesaris said the Pleasant Colony connection is a big reason he believes Kong the King will relish longer distances.

"He reminds me a lot of Pleasant Colony," Klesaris said of Kong the King, who won his debut going a mile on Sept. 18. "I remember Pleasant Colony when he ran and I have seen quite a few Pleasant Colony babies, and he is a lot like the typical Pleasant Colony in the way he is made and his running style.

"He has always been a big, long, lanky kind of colt. He is your typical two-turn horse and he was prepared that way. He is the kind of colt that might get out-sprinted going three-quarters, but his best running will come at two turns."

In Kong the King's favor, he won his maiden coming from off the pace on a day when Delaware's track favored speed. He will need to run much faster, however, to beat the five rivals he faces in the Dover.

Leading the opposition is Kong's Revenge, who will make his first start around two turns after finishing third in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Futurity at Belmont Park last time out.

Kong's Revenge is likely to vie for favoritism with the Todd Pletcher-trained Air Lord, who won by 2 1/4 lengths locally in a one-mile overnight stakes on Sept. 25.

Also dangerous, if he adapts to two turns, is Adore the Gold. He debuted in a maiden claimer for trainer Mike Gorham, earning a sizzling 96 Beyer Speed Figure for a 10 3/4-length win going six furlongs.