08/20/2008 11:00PM

Marathon test on tap


Seven older horses will attempt to prove they merit consideration for this fall's inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon by testing their ability to go 1 1/2 miles in Saturday's $100,000 Kelso Stakes at Delaware Park.

The Kelso, previously contested at 1 3/16 miles, was increased in distance this season to serve as a stepping-stone to the 1 1/2-mile BC Dirt Marathon, which will be held Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

Phil the Power, a 4-year-old based at Monmouth Park with trainer Joe Orseno, is the only member of the Kelso cast with experience going

1 1/2 miles. He was a distant second at 30-1 to Evening Attire in last month's $250,000 Greenwood Cup, a Win and You're In event, at Philadelphia Park.

From a pedigree standpoint, however, the most intriguing entrant is Barbican, one of the outsiders on the track's morning line at 8-1. A

5-year-old based at Penn National with trainer Todd Beattie, Barbican most recently was third in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's on the West Virginia Derby undercard. According to DRF's Formulator, Beattie is 7 for 15 the past two years with horses making their second start in a route following a layoff, as Barbican does.

Perhaps more importantly, Barbican is a half-brother to Equerry, a two-time Group 3 winner in France going 1 1/4 miles.

Another possible price play at 6-1 on the track's line is Smart Growth. His trainer, Jonathan Sheppard, has finished first or second with 8 of 9 horses racing between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 miles on dirt the past five years.

The track's morning-line favorite is Menacing. Two starts ago, he was third to Honest Man, who upset Grasshopper in last weekend's Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth Park.