10/14/2004 12:00AM

New York shippers stand out


A pair of New York-based turf runners who have been competitive against Grade 1- and Grade 2-caliber horses tower over the competition in Saturday's $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at Delaware Park.

King's Drama, a Bobby Frankel-trained 4-year-old who most recently finished third in the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont, and B.A. Way, third despite a troubled start last time out in the Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap, are by far the classiest horses in the 1 1/8-mile Caesar Rodney.

Usually a front-runner, King's Drama has posted four consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures since arriving from France four months ago.

"If he gets the lead, he's awful tough," Frankel said. "If he doesn't, he's fine, too."

B.A. Way, a 4-year-old colt trained by Richard Violette, was bumped at the start of the Belmont BC Handicap and ended up 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Senor Swinger. The Caesar Rodney represents the softest spot he has been in since beating high-priced optional claimers in late June. In four starts at the distance, B. A. Way has not been worse than third.

Although both King's Drama and B. A. Way can handle turf that's less than firm, Frankel said the condition of Delaware's grass course following two days of predicted rain could keep King's Drama at home.

"I'm not 100 percent sure he will run," Frankel said. "I'm concerned the turf could be chewed up."

If Frankel decides to pass, King's Drama will be pointed to the Knickerbocker, a Grade 2, $150,000 turf stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Oct. 27 at Aqueduct.

Foufa's Warrior is a longshot possibility. He finished eight lengths ahead of King's Drama in last year's Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park and his only win in eight lifetime turf starts is over Delaware's grass course.

The 6-year-old Spruce Run, trained by Linda Rice, is only 1 for 8 this year, but that victory came over soft ground in the Elkwood at Monmouth Park. A seven-time winner on grass, Spruce Run has been freshened since turning in a dull performance six weeks ago in the Bob Harding at Monmouth, a race he won in 2003.

Private Lap, who won last year's Caesar Rodney with a 106 Beyer when the race was moved to a sloppy main track, would become an instant favorite if the stakes gets taken off the turf again.