05/23/2003 11:00PM

Lx Commander drops in class for stakes sprint


The Indy 500 isn't the only sporting event in Indianapolis this weekend, as two stakes highlight the 12-race program on closing day at Indiana Downs's inaugural Thoroughbred meeting.

The $40,000 Checkered Flags has drawn a field of nine 3-year-old colts and geldings, headed by Lx Commander, who drops out of graded stakes for trainer Bernie Flint. In the $35,000 Veterans Stakes, seven Indiana-bred 3-year-olds will start.

Lx Commander cuts back to six furlongs in the Checkered Flags after setting the pace in both the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 5 and the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile American Turf at Churchill on May 2. Although Lx Commander faded through the lane to finish off the board in both races, he should find Monday's softer competition to his liking.

Lx Commander has won 3 of 6 starts this year, including a 10 1/2-length score in a $50,000 optional claiming race at Hawthorne on March 18. For that effort, he earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure - the top number of any entrant in this race. Flint has named Greta Kuntzweiler to ride Lx Commander.

Miner Moss, who finished a distant fourth in the Grade 3 Derby Trial behind Midas Eyes last out, is a major danger in the Checkered Flags. Ken Hickman trains and co-owns Miner Moss, a gelded son of Miner's Mark, with Tim Brown. Prior to the Derby Trial, Miner Moss rallied to score by a nose in a two-other-than-allowance sprint March 27 at Turfway Park. Regular rider Eddie Zuniga will be aboard.

K K Avey has class edge

K K Avey and Tee to Green will square off in the six-furlong Veterans, which goes as race 9 on the card, two races before the Checkered Flags.

K K Avey, who took the $74,000 Indiana Futurity at Hoosier Park last November, is the only stakes winner entered in the Veterans.

K K Avey was winless in five tries in Kentucky this winter, but a return to Indiana and statebred company resulted in an easy 5 3/4-length score in a mile and 70-yard allowance race on May 7.

Trainer Roger Anderson did not name a rider for K K Avey at entry time.

Tee to Green was an impressive 7 1/2-length winner in his only race against statebreds, just nine days ago. Tee to Green won a maiden special weight race at Turfway Park in March for trainer Charles Walcott.

Orlando Mojica, who is in a tight battle with Sidney Lejeune Jr. for the riding title here, has a return call in the Veterans.