11/01/2007 12:00AM

Laurel: Digger relishes Maryland

EmailThe 3-year-old gelding Digger may be based in New York, but he has done some of his best running in Maryland.

Digger returns to Laurel Park, where he has been first or second in 6 of 7 starts, for the $50,000 Northern Dancer. The 1 1/8-mile race, which drew a field of six, is restricted to

3-year-old Maryland-breds.

Originally trained in Maryland by Phil Schoenthal, Digger has been training in New York with Richard Dutrow Jr., though Dove Houghton is listed as the trainer for the Northern Dancer.

The last time he traveled to Maryland, Digger romped by nearly 12 lengths in the one-mile Deputed Testamony, earning a career-best Beyer Figure of 102.

Gammy's a Winner, who has been primarily facing claimers, and Access Love, who set slow fractions in an off-the-turf win over maidens, both have shown early speed in routes, but neither seems capable of keeping up with Digger, who has run his first six furlongs in 1:08 and change in two of his last three outings. Digger also takes a substantial class drop after setting the pace and fading in the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont Park four weeks ago.

Aside from Digger, the only horse in the field who has won a race other than a maiden or claiming event within the past 90 days is P V Lightening. A deep closer who finished 14 lengths behind Digger in the Deputed Testamony, P V Lightening's best race came on grass, where he won the nine-furlong Humphrey Finney. His only win in five tries on dirt came in a maiden sprint in April at Pimlico.