08/10/2005 12:00AM

No tripping over pedigrees in Secretariat


LAS VEGAS - At 1 1/4 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds, the Secretariat Stakes has been a showcase for developing turf stars. Kitten's Joy won last year en route to his turf championship, and other prominent grass runners have won this increasingly popular Grade 1 fixture, such as Ciro (2000), Honor Glide (1997), Marlin (1996), Awad (1993), Hawkster (1989), and Mac Diarmida (1978).

The field for this year's Secretariat, to be run Saturday at Arlington Park, consists of some promising colts with pedigrees that are perfectly suited for 1 1/4 miles on grass.

* English Channel goes into the Secretariat off a four-race winning streak, which includes victories in the Woodlawn, Colonial Turf Cup, and Virginia Derby. He is a son of Smart Strike, winner of the Philip H. Iselin Handicap and Salvator Mile. While Smart Strike achieved success on dirt, it is no surprise that his offspring are winning on turf as well.

From five crops to date, he has sired 29 stakes winners, including Soaring Free, champion sprinter in Canada and a stakes winner on both surfaces; Portcullis, champion turf male in Canada; Added Edge, champion 2-year-old colt in Canada; Japan Cup Dirt winner Fleetstreet Dancer; and Washington Park Handicap winner Tenpins.

A son of Mr. Prospector, Smart Strike is from one of the premier female families in the Stud Book today. His dam, Classy 'n Smart, was a champion 3-year-old filly in Canada and that country's 1991 Broodmare of the Year. In addition to Smart Strike, Classy 'n Smart's foals include U.S. and Canadian champion Dance Smartly (herself a Canadian Broodmare of the Year in 2001), Strike Smartly, Full of Wonder, and the unraced Seattle Classic, dam of the brilliant but ill-fated Hello Seattle, a Canadian champion at 2.

English Channel is out of the Theatrical mare Belva, a full sister to Hap, a major stakes winner on turf who was second in the 2001 Arlington Million behind Silvano. She is also a full sister to Pharma, winner of the Santa Ana and Wilshire handicaps. Smart Strike imparts a great deal of speed to his runners, and English Channel clearly gets stamina from Theatrical. Belva's dam, Uncommitted, is by the strong speed influence Hagley and was a champion sprinter in England and champion miler in France. The overall class of his pedigree suggests English Channel should get 1 1/4 miles on turf.

* Purim is an example of a colt maturing quickly in the middle of his 3-year-old year. He won the Arlington Classic in his first stakes attempt, and then finished second in the American Derby. Purim has an even better pedigree for routing on turf than English Channel.

By Dynaformer, he is out of a mare by Lord at War, giving him a powerful pattern for both grass and distance. But the class of his female family is as impressive as the male influences in his pedigree. His dam, Kirsteena, was third in the Lady Morvich Handicap and is a half-sister to stakes winner Miss Prospector. His third dam, Quit Me Not (by Bold Reason), did not win in two starts, but was a half-sister to Dr. Fager and Ta Wee.

* Chattahoochee War is from the first crop of Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant, and has been competitive with the top grass runners from his generation. He was second to English Channel in the Virginia Derby in his last start, and he, too, sports a solid turf pattern, being by War Chant out of a mare by Sri Pekan.

Chattahoochee War's dam, Buffalo Berry, was a stakes winner and is from the immediate family that produced 1962 champion older mare Primonetta (1978 Broodmare of the Year), 1963 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Chateaugay, and 1974 3-year-old champion Little Current, winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

* While he has yet to win a major stakes race in Europe and finished ninth in the Epsom Derby, Grand Central is an intriguing prospect at the Secretariat distance. A Coolmore colt trained by Aidan O'Brien, he is a son of Sadler's Wells, the world's greatest source of stamina on turf, and is out of the Machiavellian mare Rebecca Sharp, winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. The most important aspect of Grand Central's pedigree is that he is a double RF (Rasmussen Factor) as he is inbred to two influential broodmares - Natalma (the dam of Northern Dancer) and Special (the dam of Nureyev and second dam of Sadler's Wells).

* With only four races lifetime, Legal Precedent has a ton of upside. A winner of his first two starts, both on grass, he finished fourth in the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap and was second behind the well-regarded Becrux in the Oceanside Stakes on Del Mar's opening day. A son of grass champion Theatrical, he is out of the unraced Seattle Slew mare Slew of Comfort. His second dam, Caterina, won the Nunthorpe Stakes and also produced Ancient Regime, winner of the Prix Morny Stakes.

* Gun Salute won the American Derby in his last start. The Bill Mott trainee is by the underrated sire Military, a son of Danzig whose stakes victories included the Oak Tree Turf Championship Stakes (at the Secretariat distance) and Citation Handicap. Military is out of Wavering Girl (Wavering Monarch), a champion 2-year-old filly in Canada. Wavering Girl is out of the special broodmare Battle Creek Girl, making her a half-sister to five other stakes winners - Tricky Creek, Parade Ground, Parade Leader, Speed Dialer, and Everhope.

Gun Salute's dam, Hail Roberta (Roberto), is from a remarkable stakes-producing female line that has produced champion It's in the Air, Native Royalty, Queens Only, Tactile, and Contested Bid. By Military out of a mare by Roberto, Gun Salute is perfectly suited by the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Secretariat.