09/01/2004 11:00PM

Old-timers to battle in Camac


Officially, it's known as "Pennsylvania Day at the Races," a celebration of the Keystone State's breeding program with a series of statebred stakes worth $50,000 apiece at Philadelphia Park.

Based on the core of contenders in Saturday's most competitive race, it might just as easily be "Old-timer's Day."

The Robert Camac Memorial, a five-furlong turf sprint, shapes up as the day's most interesting betting race. The 11-horse field includes four runners - all of whom are viable contenders - between the ages of 8 and 13.

The group's elder statesman is Sir Echo, a winner of 19 races and $486,736. At 13, Sir Echo came close to wiring a field of statebreds going 1 1/16 miles in his last start, the Capital City Handicap at Penn National, before settling for second. Although he's still effective when sparingly raced by trainer John Zimmerman, the Camac might be too short for Sir Echo. He's 0 for 5 lifetime at the distance.

Five furlongs suits 8-year-olds Namequest and Dancin Red Wolf and the 9-year-old Grangeville just fine.

Namequest has won two in a row at the distance on the Philly Park turf.

Dancin Red Wolf comes off a three-length win against second-level allowance runners. But that race came on July 4 and his trainer, William Christmas, is 0 for 16 the past two years with horses returning from a layoff of more than 61 days.

Grangeville, idle since May, was a solid second against open $50,000 claimers the last time he sprinted on turf, in March at Gulfstream Park.

Among the younger horses in the Camac, 6-year-old Shades of Sunny looks dangerous from the outside post. Two starts ago, he won the McSorley at Monmouth Park and earlier this year finished third in the $100,000 Turf Monster against open company.

In the other four stakes:

* Caught in the Rain, who won the 2003 running of the Mrs. Penny, will be a heavy favorite to repeat in the 1 1/16-mile Mrs. Penny, a grass race for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old Caught in the Rain was a Grade 3 stakes winner on turf last year and tuned up for this race by winning the Pistol Packer Handicap on the main track.

* Golddigger Beware, narrowly beaten by Caught in the Rain in the Pistol Packer, cuts back to seven furlongs for the Ambassador of Luck.

* Yo, 5 for 9 lifetime over Philly Park's main track and 2 for 3 at seven furlongs, is one of only two horses in the field for the Devil's Honor with a win at the seven-furlong distance.

* Prince Joseph is the horse to beat in the Lil E Tee, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.