03/23/2008 11:00PM

Richland Creek capable of repeat


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Richland Creek brings a flashy Beyer Speed Figure and the right kind of running style into Wednesday's ninth race at Oaklawn, a $75,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

A field of six older horses will start, including Prom Shoes and Sumac, who are multiple stakes-placed, and the stakes winner Iosilver. The race figures to produce starters for the $100,000 Fifth Season here on April 11.

Richland Creek has the look of a strong favorite. He won a one-mile optional claiming race here in a strong time of 1:36.40 in his last start, on March 1, when he stalked the pace en route to a two-length win. For his effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105, one of the highest numbers assigned to a horse at this meet.

"He must have done everything right to get that score," said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Richland Creek. "I really, really hope that was a breakthrough race for him, and if it is, we can build up and really do something special.

"If we can see it again, a second time, that will be significant."

The stalking tactics that Richland Creek used should suit him well Wednesday. Aside from Iosilver, a candidate to wire this field, there appears to be little speed in the race. However, the tactical speed Richland Creek possesses should enable him to keep Iosilver in his sights.

"That last race is his best race, and he laid right there, one-two, one-two all the way around," Lukas said of Richland Creek. "So, obviously, he's going to show some speed."

Richland Creek is a 4-year-old son of Smart Strike who races for Shortleaf Stable. Calvin Borel has the mount.

Prom Shoes is a closer who could be at a disadvantage pacewise. Still, from a class standpoint he is appealing. He has raced in stakes his last four starts. Most recently, Prom Shoes was fifth to front-running winner Jonesboro in the Grade 3 Razorback Breeders' Cup on March 8. Last year, Prom Shoes was second by a nose in the Grade 2 Peter Pan. Chris Emigh has the mount for trainer Jinks Fires.

Menacing won a third-level allowance here in his last start, Feb. 10, and since then he has been flattered by two he defeated that day, Sumac and Like an Eagle, both of whom returned to win optional claimers in their next starts. All three meet again in Wednesday's lineup.