10/22/2008 11:00PM

Natural Seven tries again


Natural Seven, who began the year running for a $15,000 claiming tag but has improved dramatically since he was switched to the turf by trainer Ben Feliciano Jr., tries for his elusive first stakes victory after two near-misses on Saturday at Laurel Park.

Favored in 5 of his last 7 starts, the 4-year-old Natural Seven figures to be a short price once again in the $50,000 Mister Diz, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint restricted to Maryland-breds.

Feliciano claimed Natural Seven for $15,000 on behalf of the Taking Risks Stable out of a nonwinners-of-two race on Jan. 5. Since then, the horse has won 5 of 7 starts, all in turf sprints, while moving up the class ladder.

Despite earning a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure in the Quick Call Stakes on Sept. 1 at Saratoga, Natural Seven surrendered a three-length lead in the final furlong and ended up fourth, beaten a neck in a four-horse photo. His jockey that day, Ramon Dominguez, lost his whip in deep stretch.

Then three weeks ago, as the 2-5 favorite in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint, Natural Seven led until the final jump, when he was nosed out by Kosmos Buddy.

There may not be anybody fast enough to prevent Natural Seven from winning his first stakes in the Mister Diz.

Lycurgus, an off-the-pace runner trained by Scott Lake, rallied belatedly to get within three-quarters of a length of Natural Seven in the Maryland Million and came back to finish third in a third-level allowance at Philadelphia Park. The Mister Diz represents his third start in 21 days.

The 8-year-old Saay Mi Name comes back on short rest after being claimed for $25,000 by high-percentage trainer Donald Campbell on Oct. 17. The quick turnaround appears to be a sign of confidence.