08/23/2006 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron returns in derby

Lawyer Ron will be making his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

When it was announced earlier this year that Fairmount Park would hold the $250,000 St. Louis Derby, a race funded entirely by a private donation from the locally based Circle C Stables, the hope was that the race would attract a marquee member of the 3-year-old division.

Fortunately, the timing of Saturday night's race worked out well for trainer Bob Holthus, who preferred an easier race than the Travers to kick off the fall campaign of his star colt Lawyer Ron.

Lawyer Ron, whose six-race win streak heading into the Kentucky Derby included graded wins in the Risen Star, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby, figures to be a strong favorite when he faces 11 rivals in the 1 1/16-mile St. Louis Derby.

Showing at times a dazzling turn of foot, Lawyer Ron swept Oaklawn Park's three major Derby preps last spring and headed to Churchill Downs as one of the leading Derby contenders. Lawyer Ron started as the 10-1 sixth choice and finished 12th. Surgery was later performed to remove a chip in his right hind ankle, which sidelined him most of the summer.

The Kentucky Derby remains Lawyer Ron's only defeat on a conventional dirt surface, which bodes well for his trip to Fairmount, a track many consider to be deep and tiring.

"He's handled a deep track at Louisiana Downs, so that shouldn't be a problem," Holthus said.

More worrisome may be the competition, which was not scared away by Lawyer Ron's presence. Lewis Michael, the likely second choice, cemented his credentials with a neck loss to Sunriver in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont in May. Lewis Michael even owns a win over Lawyer Ron, although it came in a grass race at Churchill last year. Lewis Michael is cross-entered in Saturday's King's Bishop at Saratoga, but will run at Fairmount, his trainer, Wayne Catalano, said on Thursday.

The likelihood of an honest pace will help Cielo Gold and More Than Regal, who last raced in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer earlier this month. The West Virginia Derby was the best race in Cielo Gold's eight-race career as he rallied from last to finish a clear second behind front-running winner Bright One.

More Than Regal, third in the Mountaineer race, already has a Midwestern derby victory to his credit, having taken the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows with a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Casino Evil, winner of the Round Table at Arlington, and recent allowance winners Like an Eagle and Kid Lemonade may justifiably find their way onto exotics tickets. Kid Lemonade is cross-entered in an allowance race at Delaware Park on Sunday.

Barely Union Scale tests older

One 3-year-old bypassing the St. Louis Derby is Barely Union Scale, who instead will take on older runners in the $40,000 Circle C Classic Handicap for Illinois-breds at a mile and 70 yards on the derby undercard.

Barely Union Scale was beaten a nose by Casino Evil in the Round Table on July 15, but ran well below par next out when seventh in the seven-furlong Forward Pass Stakes.

Others of note in the Circle C Classic are Stormy o' Bryan, a locally based gelding with a couple of high-end allowance wins at the meet, and the mare Lady Riss, who has won 11 of 15 starts at Fairmount with 4 seconds.