05/02/2002 11:00PM

No Slip has shot to run down Redattore

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PHOENIX - This is the age of the specialist, in every sport. Baseball has the lefty, the set-up guy, the closer. Football has the nickel back and third-down receiver.

That has also worked its way into the racing game. So when a versatile horse like Redattore comes along, his achievements are almost greeted more with surprise than with admiration. Here's a horse good enough to win the Grade 1 Eddie Read and run third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on turf, and also win going long on dirt in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap.

Some physical ailments kept him out of the Santa Anita Handicap, but he has worked smartly since for trainer Dick Mandella and would appear to have Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at his mercy.

Well, almost. Redattore, the 120-pound highweight and likely favorite, isn't any gimme. At least not when Bobby Frankel is involved.

Frankel sends out No Slip, who scored big wins in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby last fall and the Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap last month, and but for considerable trouble in the Grade 2 San Gabriel he may well have won that race, too.

Redattore presents a major obstacle. Not only is he very talented, but he also has speed. No Slip will be giving him a significant head start and will have to run him down, no easy feat regardless of the surface or distance.

Still, No Slip packs a wallop, and so long as Kent Desormeaux can keep him within reach of Redattore and Alex Solis, that late gear may be more than enough to establish him as not only the horse to play in the Inglewood but also a legitimate threat for next month's Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.

It doesn't hurt that so far in the meet closers have had all the best of it on turf. Redattore isn't a speed demon, but his tactical speed certainly figures to put him on or near the pace. If someone else wants it, like Kerrygold or Gallant, Redattore will certainly give it up and be content to stalk. But pacesetters and pacepressers have had a tough go of it regardless of distance or class level. That makes the prospects for No Slip that much more appealing.

Redattore figures to be about 7-5, while No Slip figures to be in the 3-1 range.

Lethal Instrument sharp in return

With Tiznow gone and Congaree preparing to return east, the handicap ranks out west are on the thin side. So it was awfully nice to see Lethal Instrument come back running in Hollywood Park's Wednesday feature. Admittedly a win going just one turn against tough allowance foes is just a first step, but Lethal Instrument always had ability, coming from the same group that has seen Swept Overboard and Malabar Gold go on to do big things.

Lethal Instrument looked every bit his old self, despite coming off a year-plus layoff because of surgery to remove an ankle chip last year after the Santa Anita Handicap. He bided his time in Wednesday's return effort at 7 1/2 furlongs and came home nicely to post the win in 1:27.98.

Trainer John Shirreffs does not have a specific spot picked out for Lethal Instrument's next start. "I plan to keep him here because I know he likes the track," said Shirreffs, whose horse has three firsts, two seconds, and two thirds in seven starts here. "He has won a stakes going two turns, so I'm not worried about him going longer."

Lethal Instrument finished second in the 2000 Native Diver Handicap here, and won the Ack Ack Handicap in 2000 and finished second in the 2001 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita.

Shirreffs also reported that Calkins Road came back in good shape from his first stakes victory in the Snow Chief but he was not sure what would be next for him. The victory for owner-breeder Tom Shapiro and his family was the first in a stakes in 35 years for the Shapiros since his grandfather, L.K. Shapiro, won the Hollywood Gold Cup an unprecedented three consecutive times with Native Diver from 1965-67.

"We all went to dinner at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills after the race," said Shirreffs. "That's where the family used to go to celebrate after Native Diver's wins."

Looking down the road with Calkins Road, Shapiro indicated a race that would mean a lot sentimentally would be the Native Diver Handicap during the fall meet. Momentum, a 3-year-old, beat older horses to win it last year. Perhaps, Shirreffs will be sending out both Calkins Road and Lethal Instrument in the race this year.

With no Tiznow or Congaree, with Milwaukee Brew likely headed east, Skimming likely awaiting Del Mar, Lido Palace eyeing a summer return, and Futural seemingly off his game, races like the Mervyn LeRoy, Californian, and Hollywood Gold Cup figure to be right up Lethal Instrument's alley.