04/19/2007 12:00AM

Pace likely to favor Ironton, Celtic Innis


Ironton and Celtic Innis, a pair of stalkers with combined earnings of nearly $800,000, may possess the ideal running style for Saturday's $95,000 Jim McKay Sprint at Pimlico.

The six-furlong McKay, formerly known as the Hoover, is among four stakes on a 10-race card supporting the featured $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds.

With three confirmed front-runners in the field of seven older horses, the McKay's pace figures to be fast, making it likely the race will set up nicely for the 7-year-old Ironton and the 5-year-old Celtic Innis.

Ironton, part of an uncoupled entry for trainer Scott Lake, dominated the Maryland Million Sprint last October and registered a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure two starts ago in a high-priced optional claimer. He has been off for nearly a month since running second under similar optional claiming conditions to one of the rivals he faces again in the McKay, the speedy Coppertone Kid.

Coppertone Kid, however, is likely to have to fight for the lead with Lake's other starter, Euro Code, and Talent Search. Coppertone Kid and Talent Search are both susceptible to a bounce after posting the first triple-digit Beyer Figures of their careers last time out.

Besides Ironton, Celtic Innis is the horse most likely to benefit from a wicked pace battle.

Last season, Celtic Innis was good enough to narrowly miss in the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap on Preakness Day and win sprint stakes at Colonial Downs and Delaware Park. Second to Ironton in the Maryland Million Sprint, Celtic Innis has been off since failing to fire twice early this year.

On the down side, Celtic Innis's trainer, Tim Keefe, has been ice-cold in 2007, winning just 1 of 42 starts. He also does poorly with sprinters returning from long layoffs, going just 3 for 36 in that category since Jan. 1, 2005.

* Silmaril, who has recently been racing primarily at seven furlongs, will see if she can stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the $125,000 Northview Stallion Station for Maryland-bred or Maryland Million-nominated fillies and mares. Silmaril was third in this race a year ago and won it two seasons ago when it was contested at 1 1/8 miles.

Silmaril's last win around two turns came when she scored in this race two years ago, earning a 94 Beyer.

Her chief threat figures to be Les Ry Leigh, who returns to the East Coast after chasing Grade 1 and Grade 2 horses at Santa Anita during the winter. In her last appearance in Maryland, Les Ry Leigh finished third in the Anne Arundel at Laurel last November.

* Call Me Clash and Hobbitontherocks, who both missed by a neck in open stakes two weeks ago, top a field of seven 3-year-olds in the restricted $125,000 Maryland Stallion Station at six furlongs. Call Me Clash comes out of the seven-furlong $114,000 Lafayette at Keeneland. The Philadelphia Park-based Hobbitontherocks exits the Grade 3, seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct.

* Nine older horses will run in the $55,000 Old Hilltop at 1 1/16 miles. Two with a good shot are Capac, second in the nine-furlong Harrison Johnson two races ago, and the 7-year-old stakes winner Trapped Again, who is coming off his best race since he began his comeback following a year's absence in December.