10/09/2009 11:00PM

Philly Bound red-hot on dirt


When he resumed racing full-speed ahead this season following a three-year self-imposed exile, owner Michael Gill stated his goal was to break the single-season record of 494 victories held by Dan Lasater, a mark that has stood since 1974.

With a little less than three months left in 2009, Gill will have to pick up the pace substantially to get close to Lasater's record or his own career best of 487 in 2004.

Through last Friday afternoon, Gill had racked up 318 wins at a variety of East Coast tracks. That means he must average close to 60 wins a month for the rest of the year, substantially more than the 41 wins per month he averaged during July, August, and September. He's also off to a slow 6-for-51 start in October.

Gill may fall short of his goal, but he's still sending out plenty of contenders, including three runners in back-to-back allowance races on Tuesday night's card at Penn National.

The 3-year-old Philly Bound, 4 for 4 on dirt since he arrived at Penn National in July, is part of a six-horse field in the featured fifth race, a third-level optional $20,000 claimer at a mile and 70 yards.

One race later, in a first-level allowance at a mile and 70 yards, Gill has the coupled entry of Ocean One and Zone Buster.

Philly Bound remains at the same class level after leading wire to wire over a sloppy track to score by three lengths, earning a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure. He's going for three in a row after previously using his speed to dominate first-level allowance foes going a mile.

Philly Bound's chief challenges should come from fellow 3-year-old In the Juice and the old-timer Phil the Brit, the lone horse in the field entered for the optional $20,000 claiming tag.

In the Juice returns to Penn National, where he just missed by a head at this level two starts ago. Most recently, he was up close at the stretch call before weakening late in the $190,000 Maryland Million Classic.

The 7-year-old Phil the Brit, trained by William Campbell, crushed slightly easier competition by eight lengths two starts back and then settled for second to Philly Bound a month ago.

In race 6, Gill's best shot appears to be Ocean One, a 4-year-old who has gone 2 for 2 since trainer Darrell Delahoussaye claimed him on Gill's behalf for $5,000 on Aug. 8.