06/20/2009 11:00PM

Legal Consent's last was his best


ELMONT, N.Y. - No one can accuse Legal Consent of shirking.

From his debut last fall at Belmont Park through the chill of winter on the inner track at Aqueduct, Legal Consent kept reporting for duty, giving it his best shot race after race.

Lately, his best has been pretty darn good.

Through experience and maturity, the colt trained by Carlos Martin developed into the horse to beat Sunday at Belmont in the $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds foaled in New York.

The Lee kicks off the Big Apple Triple for statebreds. After the seven-furlong Lee, the series moves on to Finger Lakes for the New York Derby, 1 1/16 miles on July 11, before concluding at Saratoga with the Albany Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 26.

A sweep carries a $250,000 bonus, won for the first time last year by Tin Cup Chalice.

Legal Consent is the most experienced horse in the field with nine races on the resume. His last was a superior effort, a 1 1/2-length victory in the Professor Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs here on May 6.

He earned a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure, the standout number in this field.

"He had trained so well going into that race that I really would have been disappointed if he didn't run a big race," Martin said. "It was, by far, the best race of his life so we had to give him six or seven weeks off before this race. It seemed like the right thing to do and right now, he couldn't be training any better. He's just an improving horse all the time."

And the timing is right. Legal Consent has won two in a row heading into the start of the Big Apple Triple.

"I never thought he would be a horse that would want to go that far, a mile-and-a-sixteenth or a mile-and-an eighth," Martin said. "Now he's settling in so good in his races, and running with such confidence, it's something we'd keep in mind if he was able to get through the first leg."

Ramon Dominguez, Belmont's leading rider, has the return call.

Monte Carlo is also a horse on the improve, having won both starts since transferring to the Jimmy Jerkens barn.

That's Rich, fourth in the Professor, adds blinkers.

Lookin at Her, Katskill Bay, and Slevin complete the field.