02/24/2011 1:34PM

Miracle Wood distance just right for Bandbox

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Bandbox, already a two-time stakes winner going seven furlongs, including last fall's Sleepy Hollow at Belmont (above), will make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's Miracle Wood.

Bandbox, 2 for 2 in stakes while racing seven furlongs but idle for three months, makes his 3-year-old debut at his favorite distance in Saturday’s $75,000 Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park.

One of three Triple Crown nominees in the Miracle Wood lineup of seven 3-year-olds, Bandbox trains at Laurel with trainer Rodney Jenkins, but this will be his first time racing on its main track. He won his career debut sprinting on Laurel’s turf course, then captured back-to-back $100,000 stakes, the Charles Town Juvenile and the Sleepy Hollow for New York-breds, going seven furlongs. Bandbox has not raced since he endured a troubled trip when well beaten in the Grade 2 Remsen in late November.

In preparation for his comeback, Bandbox shows a string of four bullet workouts since mid-January, including a five-furlong move in 1:00 from the gate two weeks ago.

Jenkins is 7 for 34 (21 percent) with horses returning from a break of 61 to 180 days in races contested between 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

The Parx Racing-based J J’s Lucky Train, whose last two starts came in New York, may be Bandbox’s chief competition. A Triple Crown nominee, J J’s Lucky Train has been in front at the stretch call of his last three races, all two-turn events slightly longer than one mile, so he might be ideally suited to the slightly shorter distance of the Miracle Wood.

“He’s run against some tough company and he’s shown speed in his last couple against some nice horses,” trainer William Anderson said. “We had wanted to try him long, so that’s why we went to New York, but he won easily at six furlongs at Monmouth, so we now want to shorten him back to seven furlongs. I expect a good effort.”

The top four finishers from the six-furlong Dancing Count, separated by just three lengths, meet again. That group includes Wicked Thunder and Diski Dance, who were noses apart at the wire. Diski Dance will be racing beyond six furlongs for the first time. Wicked Thunder was second, but with one of the slowest Beyer Speed Figures of his career, the one time he stretched out beyond six furlongs in November.

The longer distance of the Miracle Wood may benefit Dancing Count third-place finisher Afternoon Action, who beat Wicked Thunder going a mile three starts ago, and Concealed Identity, winner of the 7 1/2-furlong Maryland Juvenile Championship two months ago. Concealed Identity, fourth in the Dancing Count, is the field’s third Triple Crown nominee.