07/15/2004 12:00AM

Primed to pull off theft


Invaders from Belmont Park dominate the $150,000 New York Derby, the richest race of the Finger Lakes meeting.

Ten statebred 3-year-olds have been entered for the 1 1/16-mile race, and the role of favorite is likely to go to either Work With Me or Swinging Ghost, who ran second and third in the Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont last month.

The New York Derby is the second leg of OTBs' Big Apple Triple, a three-race series for New York-bred 3-year-olds that ends with the $150,000 Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Multiplication, who won the Mike Lee, the first leg of the series, died of an apparent heart attack last Saturday.

Despite having never raced at two turns, Work With Me will draw plenty of support because of his second-place finish behind Multiplication in the Mike Lee, beaten a diminishing half-length. In his start before the Mike Lee, Work With Me won his maiden at odds-on, defeating 11 rivals at Belmont. Ricardo Valdez will ride Work With Me.

Swinging Ghost also finished boldly in the Mike Lee. Swinging Ghost has never finished out of the money in six starts, including a victory in a first-level allowance race going 7 1/2 furlongs at Belmont. Leading rider John Davila, who won last year's New York Derby aboard Traffic Chief, will be aboard Swinging Ghost.

The selection here, however, is Coined for Success, who finished far back in the Mike Lee but who had previously scored around two turns against open company at Delaware. He has been breezing well over the Belmont training track in preparation for this stakes.

The only four-time winner in the lineup, Coined for Success has been involved in some fierce pace battles. On May 9 at Belmont Park, he had the misfortune of running into the speedy Lifestyle, who won the allowance race by 13 lengths, earning a towering 105 Beyer. There appears no such talent in the New York Derby, and Coined for Success seems capable of stealing the show. John Grabowski rides Coined for Success at high weight of 124 pounds.

Only one horse in the field has run at Finger Lakes, and that is House Key, who won a $50,000 statebred stakes there on June 20. He earned a modest 65 Beyer Speed Figure in that race.

Steve Stressor, who breaks from the outside, has an ascending Beyer pattern. He closed resolutely to run second last time at Belmont behind the heavily favored Legislature over a track labeled good.