07/05/2008 12:00AM

Mint Lane's fractions should tell the tale


ELMONT, N.Y. - How fast Mint Lane is forced to run in the early stages of Sunday's Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes will likely determine where he is at the end of the 1 1/16-mile race at Belmont Park.

In the Grade 2 Peter Pan, Mint Lane was forced to run a half-mile in 46.31 seconds and wound up finishing second to Casino Drive. In the Postponed Stakes, his most recent start, Mint Lane got away with an opening half-mile in 47.49 seconds and carried his speed to a 5 3/4-length victory.

Saturday, Mint Lane will again try to wire the field in the Dwyer, a race that kicks off the second half of the New York season for 3-year-olds. This year's Dwyer drew a seven-horse field, with Ready's Image the only graded stakes winner.

Eibar Coa, the leading rider at this meet, has the call on Mint Lane from post 3, and he is hoping to get the trip he did in the Postponed as opposed to the one he got in the Peter Pan.

"I was pushed from the very beginning of the race," Coa said of the Peter Pan. In the Postponed, "he took the lead easy. Even though he was running fast, he was relaxed with me."

Mint Lane has worked twice since the Postponed, including a six-furlong move in 1:13.94 on June 30.

"He seems like his work was decent the other day," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "He's holding his flesh good."

Two horses that could pressure Mint Lane early are Pascal and Fidelio. Pascal won a first-level allowance race in the slop going 1 1/16 miles here on June 4, his first start since being purchased privately by Winning Move Stable and turned over to Gary Contessa. Cornelio Velasquez will ride Pascal from post 5.

Trainer Bobby Frankel entered Fidelio late, and he could be a major contender should he run. Fidelio has won two allowance races at this meet, but Frankel is concerned about possibly running him back too soon.

Ready's Image, who won the Grade 2 Sanford last summer, has not won beyond 6 1/2 furlongs and is coming off a disappointing effort in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the way Ready's Image relaxed in winning the Adjudicating Stakes on May 14 gives him hope the horse can handle 1 1/16 miles.

"We won't know for sure till we try, but he gives me the impression he'll handle it," Pletcher said.

Halo Najib, Web Gem, and Tizbig complete the field.