06/24/2005 11:00PM

Ohio Derby lures Pinpoint


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - The field for Saturday's 71st running of the $350,000 Ohio Derby is begining to shape up, with the Nick Zito-trained Pinpoint one of the leading candidates.

Other probable starters for the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile derby are Magna Graduate, Straight Line, Hal's Image, and It's Time to Smile. According to racing secretary Billy Couch, Preakness runner-up Scrappy T. was to have worked on Sunday at Colonial downs, and then his trainer, Robert Bailes, was expected to make a decision regarding the Ohio Derby.

On Saturday, Zito said it is likely he will send Pinpoint in for the race. Owned by Arthur Hancock 3rd, Pinpoint won three straight races before finishing last of 11 in the Belmont Stakes.

"He came out of the Belmont in good shape and I could find no reason why he stopped," Zito said. "He has trained well since and I will work him on Monday. If everything is all right with him, he'll run. Mr. Hancock thinks it's a good idea."

Zito said Larry Melancon will ride Pinpoint.

Magna Graduate won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in March. In his last two starts he finished fourth in the Lone Star Derby and third in the Illinois Derby. Magna Graduate races for longtime Ohio owner-breeder Elisabeth Alexander and is trained by Todd Pletcher. He will be ridden by Gary Stevens.

Straight Line won two stakes last year, taking the one-mile Iroquois at Churchill Downs and the 5 1/2-furlong Honest Pleasure at Arlington Park. He won a three-other-than allowance going a mile at Arlington in his last start. Chris Emigh will ride for trainer Brian Williamson.

Hal's Image won the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes at Calder in late April, prompting his trainer, Barry Rose, to take a shot in the Preakness. He finished 11th in that race but returned to finish second, second beaten a head, in a nine-furlong allowance at Calder in his most recent race. Carlos Olivero has the mount.

It's Time to Smile was beaten a neck in the 1 1/16-mile Deputed Testamony at Pimlico in his most recent start and won an allowance at Charles Town prior to that. He is trained by Steven Brown.

The draw for post positions will be held on Wednesday.