06/15/2007 12:00AM

Northern Dancer BC preview


Saturday, June 16, 2007
Churchill Downs - Race 7
1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes (Grade 3)
Purse $200,000.

While horses like ZANJERO and SAM P. were put through the Triple Crown ringer, LOOSE LEAF was brought along slowly by Ken McPeek, and the trainer's patience paid dividends with his charge's facile 'n2x' allowance win over this course and distance three weeks ago. That race went almost a second faster than older 'n3x' allowance runners, and Loose Leaf humbled multiple Grade 2-placed performer Bold Start by over seven lengths. Loose Leaf has decent tactical speed, and figures to be tracking the pace while saving valuable ground entering the first turn. This will be a major class test for the son of Notebook, but he's worth a play if he remains near the morning line odds of 8-1.
PROM SHOES just missed in the Peter Pan last time out at Belmont, but that 98 Beyer may be a bit inflated. The outside seemed like the place to be on May 20, and Prom Shoes raced wide throughout. This will be his first start around two turns, and it will be interesting to see if he regresses following that major Beyer spike. CHELOKEE is a very imposing physical specimen, and he didn't have much trouble winning the Barbaro on the Preakness undercard. He seems to run in spots at times, and jockey Ramon Dominguez had to crack him with the whip with over a quarter-mile to run in the Barbaro in order for the colt to remain focused on the task at hand. He has a good deal of natural ability, and should be close to the expected moderate pace.
ZANJERO placed in four graded stakes leading up to the Kentucky Derby, but never got on track on the first Saturday in May. He's a late closer that needs pace help in order to adequately setup his late kick, and he may not get those hot fractions on Saturday. SAM P. disappointed as the chalk in the Santa Anita Derby two back, then faltered late after midmoving in the Derby. He should appreciate the turnback in distance, and may sit a nice stalking trip while clear of trouble.

1. Loose Leaf
2. Prom Shoes
3. Chelokee