08/11/2005 12:00AM

Pimlico: Learning ready to step up

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If Learning is the colt his trainer thought he was 1 1/2 months ago, he should have little troubling handling six opponents at Pimlico in the $50,000 Humphrey S. Finney Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Learning won his first two starts, a maiden special weight turf route at Pimlico in May and an entry-level allowance June 11 on the Delaware turf. Two weeks after that win, trainer Kevin Boniface sent Learning against some of the better 3-year-old turf runners in the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware. Learning never got involved and finished seventh of 11 in the 1 1/8-mile stakes.

Learning will make his first start since that race in the Finney, and only one of his opponents has won so much as an entry-level allowance on turf.

That would be Sherbrook Rye, who in his last start won going 1 1/16 miles at Delaware about a month ago. Other threats include two who have yet to race on turf: Seize, a two-other-than allowance winner in May who bombed in stakes in two subsequent starts, and Easy Red, who comes off an entry-level allowance score at Delaware about six weeks ago.