06/12/2003 12:00AM

Leonard Richards wide open


Horseplayers may have to hit the "all" button in the second leg of Saturday's NTRA Summer Pick Three in order to be assured of holding a live ticket.

The $250,000 Leonard Richards, a Grade 3 stakes race at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park, is a handicapping challenge for a couple of reasons. There's a big field of 10 and a fine line separating more than a half-dozen contenders.

The Richards will be shown live at 5:27 p.m. Eastern on CBS as the second leg of the season's first NTRA Summer Pick Three. The sequence begins with the Brooklyn Handicap from Belmont Park and ends with the Stephen Foster Handicap from Churchill Downs.

Seven of the horses in the Richards have posted a winning Beyer Speed Figure between 92 and 98 in a stakes race this year. The race is so wide open that Cherokee's Boy, a three-time stakes winner in Maryland, is listed as the lukewarm favorite at 9-2. Cherokee's Boy and New York Hero both finished far behind Funny Cide in the Preakness, but fit much better with this group of second-tier 3-year-olds.

The hot horse looks like Go Rockin' Robin, a New York-bred who most recently romped to a six-length win at 13-1 in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont.

Christine's Outlaw and Region of Merit were third and fourth in the Arkansas Derby while earning Beyers in the low 90's. Christine's Outlaw may have disliked the mud when he returned from a freshening and finished sixth in the Peter Pan. Region of Merit, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, has been prepping in New York for the Richards, his first start in two months.

The wild card in the Richards could be horse for the course Mt. Carson. A two-time sprint winner this season, Mt. Carson will be stretching out to a route for the first time since he finished sixth in the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity last November. His 98 is the best last-out Beyer in the field.

Trainer Rodney Jenkins said he's not overly concerned about the distance switch because Mt. Carson proved he can go two turns last October in the one-mile Dover Stakes, one of his three victories at Delaware.

"I think if he relaxes he will get the mile and a sixteenth," Jenkins said. "He has enough natural speed, so he should be up close enough."

Lone Star Sky was cross-entered in Saturday's Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs and trainer Tom Amoss indicated he intends to run there. One other early scratch, Gang, was euthanized after he was injured in a training accident following the draw.

McCarthy wins twice as trainer

Mike McCarthy, who retired last November after dominating the Delaware jockey colony for seven years, recorded his first two wins since returning to Delaware as a trainer last Sunday. McCarthy saddled his first career winner last winter at Gulfstream.

Apprentice Richard Monterrey rode 4-year-old filly Bargain Dancer to victory in the first race. Anthony Black guided 3-year-old colt Sir Ray to win a one-mile allowance in the seventh race.

McCarthy, who has a record of 2-5-1 in 14 starts at Delaware, said he was glad to finally reach the winner's circle after a string of near-misses.

"We had a bunch of seconds with horses we expected to race well," McCarthy said. "I knew it was just a matter of time. One nice thing is people expect a lot from me, so I have to meet those high expectations. But I don't have a problem dealing with pressure one tiny bit."

* Bowman's Band and Private Lap, who finished one-two, separated by only a neck, in last weekend's Brandywine Handicap, will both be pointed to the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial on July 19.

* Trainer Allen Iwinski is targeting the 1 1/8-mile Obeah Handicap on June 21 for Devon Rose, winner of the Summer King Stakes June 2. The $100,000 Obeah is the final local prep for the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 20.

* Delaware-based Mandy's Gold, the recent winner of the Grade 3 Pimlico Distaff, will make her next start in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park June 21. She then may be pointed for the Delaware Handicap.