02/05/2004 12:00AM

Little in Cajun Beat's way


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Cajun Beat, his sights set squarely on a championship he missed last year, seeks to put a stranglehold upon the division leadership when he carries top weight of 123 pounds in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

, is likely to be scratched from the Deputy Minister after drawing the rail, his trainer, Mark Hennig, said Thursday.

"I'm tired of him running out of the one hole every time," Hennig said after Gygistar landed the rail for the fourth time in his last five races. "It's a disadvantage to be in the one hole at Gulfstream, and it's a disadvantage to be on the rail sprinting."

Hennig said he would instead take Gygistar to the Grade 2 General George Stakes at Laurel on Feb. 16. That race is worth twice as much money as the Deputy Minister.

If Gygistar scratches, that would leave a field of six, with Cajun Beat a heavy favorite. Cajun Beat has won the Kentucky Cup Sprint, Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Mr. Prospector in his last three starts, all with jockey Cornelio Velasquez aboard. In the Mr. Prospector, he safely held Gygistar at bay while winning by 1 1/2 lengths. He will be giving anywhere from seven to 12 pounds to his remaining five rivals.

True Direction, who won the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct in November 2002, returns to action for the first time since June, when he suffered a nasty quarter crack in a stakes race at Suffolk Downs. Foot problems have limited the 5-year-old True Direction to a mere 10 starts, but on his best day, he is one of the nation's elite sprinters.

Alke has won three straight since moving to the barn of Todd Pletcher, but he has never faced sprinters of this quality.

Buju is taking a huge jump in class. He returned from a nine-month layoff to win a first-level allowance race on Jan. 5 for trainer Allen Jerkens.

American Style was a distant second to Funny Cide in an allowance race on Jan. 10.