03/01/2008 12:00AM

Kruger Park horse for course


ARCADIA, Calif. - Two narrow losses by Kruger Park in optional claimers on the hillside turf course have convinced trainer Paddy Gallagher that the unique course is a perfect fit for his 4-year-old gelding.

Kruger Park can prove it when he starts in a $52,000 allowance race in Monday's seventh race.

"He seems to handle it," Gallagher said. "He seems like he tries every time, that little horse. He's not that big, but he's got a lot of heart."

Owned by Jon and Sarah Kelly, Kruger Park was fourth by three-quarters of a length on the hillside last September and third, beaten a head, in his most recent start over the course on Feb. 9. In between, he made two starts, including a two-length win in a first-condition allowance race over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on Dec. 13.

On Monday, Kruger Park has drawn the rail in a field of 11 that will have a safety limit of 10 starters. Kruger Park is seeking the third win of his career. He is a stalker that should have some pace to follow, due to the presence of Faulkwood Shores and Hurry Home Warren.

Leading trainer John Sadler starts Congo King, who won a first-condition allowance race on the hillside turf course on Jan. 21. A winner of 2 of 16 starts, Congo King was fifth behind Kruger Park in the Dec. 13 race, but Sadler believes his horse is better over the longer distance on the hillside course.

"I thought the six furlongs at Hollywood was a little short for him," he said. "I think the six and a half is the difference. I think it's a good distance for him. When he ran six furlongs, it seemed like he needed farther."

The race marks the 2008 debut of Gweebarra, who was stakes-placed in England in 2006 and eighth in a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar last July.

One race earlier on the card, Sneaky Jack looks to win for the third time in his last four starts.

Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Sneaky Jack won consecutive claiming races with values of $25,000 and $20,000 in the fall at Hollywood Park and was a game second in an optional claimer for statebred females here on Jan. 1.

Owned by a partnership, Sneaky Jack is in a field of eight that also includes the recent maiden race winner Witchy Meeting and River Glow, who has not started since finishing third in an optional claimer last March.