05/28/2002 11:00PM

Medlin Road looks much best

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STICKNEY, Ill. - For an $8,000 Illinois-bred, Medlin Road can run quite a little bit. An easy winner of his first three races, Medlin Road ran well even when he lost for the first time, finishing second in the Matt Winn Stakes on May 11 at Churchill Downs. On Friday, he should have little trouble beating five opponents in the Rustic Ruler Stakes at Hawthorne.

Medlin Road will be a heavy favorite in the Rustic Ruler, a $45,000 overnight stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs, and having yet shown no real chinks in his armor, he's a tough favorite to stand against.

"That horse can run," said trainer Richie Scherer, who saddles Medlin Road on Friday. Medlin Road has shuttled between Scherer and his father, Merrill, who is based in Kentucky and in whose name Medlin Road raced in the Matt Winn. "My dad sent him to me last fall, and all he told me is, 'This one can run.' "

Indeed. Medlin Road beat a field of statebred maidens by four lengths in his career debut last October, but then didn't race again until this spring at Sportsman's, where he twice beat open allowance company.

"That second race at Sportsman's was the one that really impressed me," Richie Scherer said. "It was the first time he got dirt in his face, and he looked like he was going backwards on the turn, but then he just exploded in the stretch and won easily."

Medlin Road rated behind a fast pace in the Matt Winn and can get a similar trip in the Rustic Ruler, stalking speed horses Gold Taker and Cicero Grimes.

An Illinois-bred good enough to compete in open stakes races is a lucrative commodity on this circuit, and Scherer said the Rustic Ruler could serve as Medlin Road's prep for the Illinois-restricted Springfield Stakes on June 22 at Arlington.

U S S Tinosa back on track

U S S Tinosa breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 on Monday at Arlington, the colt's first work since he finished sixth of 13 in the Preakness Stakes. Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains U S S Tinosa for owners Peter Abruzzo and Barry Thiriot, said no concrete plans have been made for U S S Tinosa's next start, but that the colt is being considered for the June 8 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park.

"We are going to run him some in Chicago this summer, too," said Hollendorfer.

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