09/29/2005 12:00AM

Lot of possibilities in Indiana Derby

Jim Linscott
Scrappy T gallops Thursday at Hoosier Park under Neil Stalhiem, an outrider at the track.

ANDERSON, Ind. - There is no shortage of intrigue surrounding the nine-horse lineup assembled for Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000-added Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

Scrappy T and Greater Good will both be making their first start following a long layoff. Greater Good hasn't raced since the Kentucky Derby, while Scrappy T has been on the shelf since tussling with Afleet Alex entering the stretch of the Preakness, a race in which he finished a clear second.

, with Ramon Dominguez up, is expected to vie for the role of favorite with Don't Get Mad, who has been beaten in his last two starts, the Grade 2 Swaps and the Grade 1 Travers.

A throwback to the days when it wasn't unusual for the Derby Trial winner to come back in a week and run competitively in the Kentucky Derby, Don't Get Mad romped by seven lengths in the one-mile Derby Trial , then returned on short rest to close from far back and finish fourth in the Derby. Since the Derby, he has impressively won the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup at Churchill and finished fifth in the Swaps and fourth in the Travers.

"The timing of this race is just like the Northern Dancer," said Ron Ellis, the trainer of Don't Get Mad. "He's shortening back from 1 1/4 miles after running against some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. Hopefully he'll run real big again and we'll get the same kind of result."

Brice Blanc will be aboard Don't Get Mad from the outside post.

The field is full of other upset possibilities.

Thor's Echo and Southern Africa took turns beating each other in derbies in the Southwest earlier this year. In a pair of starts at Sunland Park, Southern Africa won the Borderland Derby by a length over Thor's Echo, and then finished second to him by a length in the $500,000 WinStar Derby. In May, Southern Africa won the Lone Star Derby, with Thor's Echo finishing fifth.

comes into the Indiana Derby off a strong second to Sun King in the Pennsylvania Derby. Trainer Mike Puhich has given Tyler Baze a return mount.

Thor's Echo enters Saturday's race off a win in the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar for trainer Doug O'Neill, and will have Felipe Martinez aboard.

Greater Good may pose the biggest handicapping challenge. After posting consecutive wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club, Southwest, and Rebel, his stock tumbled after a fifth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby and a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Greater Good has been working sharply for trainer Bob Holthus, drilling six furlongs in the slop in 1:12 on Sept. 20 after working a bullet five-eighths in 59.40 seconds the week before. His regular rider, John McKee, will be aboard.

The derby has an expected post of 9:50 p.m. Eastern and anchors a pick four that includes a starter allowance, the Gus Grissom Stakes for older Indiana-breds, and an allowance sprint.

The night's other stakes is the Hillsdale for 2-year-old statebreds.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee

The field

Indiana Derby
Purse: $500,000; 1 1/16 miles; Grade 2

1It's Time to SmileT. Clifton11715-1
2Thor's EchoF.F. Martinez1249-2
3Southern AfricaT. Baze1246-1
4Greater GoodJ. McKee12410-1
5Scrappy TR.A. Dominguez1245-2
6PurimM. Guidry1248-1
7Earth's Vain ShadowT.L. Pompell12112-1
8Apache PointS.B. Martinez11520-1
9Don't Get MadB. Blanc1247-2

* Track morning line odds