11/17/2006 12:00AM

To Much Coffee: Mr. Mink plus 11 others


The $40,000 To Much Coffee Stakes, for older Indiana-breds at 1 1/16 miles at Hoosier Park, attracted a full field of 12. But the race really boils down to one horse: Mr. Mink.

One of the more prolific statebreds of recent years, Mr. Mink is out to make amends for a second-place finish in the 2005 To Much Coffee. The speedy gelding was favored last year and built up an eight-length lead down the backside, but he was caught in the final furlong by Pass Rush, a graded stakes winner.

Pass Rush was not entered in the To Much Coffee on Sunday, nor was Indy Two, upset winner of the Gus Grissom Stakes earlier this meet. The absence of those two rivals should make Mr. Mink's attempt at redemption decidedly easier.

Even with 11 other alternatives, bettors may have a difficult time rationalizing an upset of Mr. Mink. The two with arguably the best chance at threatening the favorite are Liepers Fork and Play Smart.

Liepers Fork's two wins this season came in open claimers in Kentucky, but he is a stakes-quality runner in Indiana. He finished third in the To Much Coffee last year and most recently was third in the Gus Grissom.

Play Smart has never finished out of the money in six starts, and comes into Sunday's race off two dominating wins against allowance company. The knock against Play Smart is that Sunday's race will be his first beyond six furlongs.