05/25/2007 11:00PM

Met Mile perfect fit for Lawyer Ron

Kris Coady/Coady Photography
Lawyer Ron has never lost going a mile on a conventional dirt track.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Lawyer Ron has won 10 of his 20 career starts and has earned $1.8 million. But a more thorough examination of his past performances shows an even more impressive record.

On conventional dirt, Lawyer Ron has won 10 of 13 starts with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Super Derby. His only off-the-board finishes on dirt came in last year's Kentucky Derby (12th) and Breeders' Cup Classic (9th).

That record, which includes a 3-for-3 mark at one mile, as well as a newfound willingness to relax, gives Lawyer Ron a slight edge in a star-studded field set to contest Monday's Grade 1, $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

The Met Mile is always one of the highlights of the Belmont spring meet, and this year's 114th edition drew a superlative cast of 10. Lawyer Ron figures to vie for favoritism with Grade 1 winner Silver Wagon. Latent Heat, another Grade 1 winner, is in this field as are Grade 2 winners Half Ours, Corinthian, Silent Name, and Sun King.

"The Met Mile is always a very tough race, this year is certainly no exception,'' said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Lawyer Ron. Pletcher has run six horses in this race since 2001 without success.

Lawyer Ron came to Pletcher last fall after he had a good 3-year-old season with Robert Holthus. Lawyer Ron had a reputation as being a bit headstrong and that trait proved his undoing in the BC Classic, where he chased the pace and backed up.

Pletcher's goal with Lawyer Ron over the winter was to get him more settled, something Pletcher believes he accomplished in getting the colt to win an allowance race at Gulfstream and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Park Handicap.

"I thought he rated pretty kindly in both the races he's run, but he's not the kind of horse you're going to take completely off the bridle,'' Pletcher said.

Lawyer Ron, a son of 1997 Met Mile winner Langfuhr, will break from the rail under Edgar Prado.

Pletcher will also send out Half Ours. He suffered his first defeat in the Grade 3 Alysheba on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, his first start around two turns. Half Ours rated off Wanderin Boy that day, and was never able to catch him, finishing second.

"I think as much as anything he just didn't relish the going,'' Pletcher said. "He's done very little wrong in his whole career. A one-turn mile suits him well, although I do think he'll stretch out beyond that later on.''

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. won the Met Mile last year with Silver Train and will seek to win it again with Silver Wagon.The 6-year-old Silver Wagon is coming off wins in the Grade 2 General George at Laurel Park and the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct.

Silver Wagon is 0 for 3 at a mile and 0 for 3 at Belmont, but he did finish second to Ghostzapper in the 2005 Met Mile.

"He couldn't be coming to the race any better, he's been training very good,'' Dutrow said. "In Florida, he wasn't training like he is here. I was more afraid of [the Carter] than I am of this one.''

Silver Wagon is a come-from-behind horse and would benefit from a fast pace up front. Dutrow also entered Mr. Umphrey, who would be used as a rabbit if Dutrow feels there is not enough early pace.

Others who look to have plenty of early speed are Latent Heat, who won the Grade 1 Malibu, and perhaps Silent Name, who won the Grade 2 Commonwealth over Keeneland's Polytrack, as well as Half Ours and Accountforthegold.

Sun King and Corinthian could offer some value. Sun King was second in this race at almost 7-1 last year, and comes off a second-place finish in the Westchester. Sun King is 0 for 12 in Grade 1 races, however.

Corinthian, who won the Gulfstream Park Handicap, leapt in the air at the start of the Excelsior BC Handicap and finished fifth. Corinthian is cutting back to a one-turn mile for the first time since he won a maiden race in November 2005.

"If he doesn't get anything, it's because he's not good enough,'' Jerkens said. "Every indication is he's going to run good.''

* Commentator, the winner of the 2005 Whitney Handicap, makes his 6-year-old debut in Monday's $65,000 Richmond Runner Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong race for New York-breds. Commentator, trained by Nick Zito, will break from the rail under Corey Nakatani and 124 pounds. His competition includes Storm Boot Gold and Starcastic.