02/26/2009 12:00AM

Rock on Justin lacks only figs


Rock on Justin's form is razor sharp, seven furlongs is his favorite distance, and he owns two wins over Laurel Park's main track. But will that be enough to overcome modest Beyer Speed Figures and his trainer's ice-cold recent stats?

Those are the pieces of evidence handicappers must weigh when trying to gauge Rock on Justin's chances in the $50,000 Miracle Wood Stakes, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Three of the last five winners of the Miracle Wood have gone on to run in the Preakness, most notably Sweetnorthernsaint, who finished second in the second leg of the Triple Crown in 2006. Only two of the eight colts and geldings entered in Saturday's race, however, are nominated to the Triple Crown.

Rock on Justin isn't among them. On the plus side, he's 3 for 4 going seven furlongs and has won his last two starts by a combined margin of 13 1/4 lengths.

But his most recent Beyers of 69 and 79 are far below the par of 93 for the last seven runnings of the Miracle Wood.

Perhaps even more troubling, trainer Gary Capuano's barn has tailed off dramatically lately. After going 14 for 23 from Nov. 10 through the end of the fall meet on Dec. 31, Capuano began Laurel's winter meet by going 1 for 14.

In the Juice, idle since finishing second against statebreds in the Maryland Juvenile Championship on Dec. 27, and Classic Wildcat, a dominating debut winner on Jan. 1, are the two in the field whose connections felt confident enough to nominate them to the Triple Crown.

In the Juice comes from the high-percentage barn of John Robb, but his record with 61- to 180-day layoff horses returning at distances of seven furlongs to a mile is just 1 for 6 the past five years, according to DRF's Formulator.

Classic Wildcat is still eligible for a first-level allowance after rallying to get second in his first try against winners. Saturday's race will mark his first attempt beyond six furlongs.

The Pennsylvania-bred St John's Gospel is the field's lone stake winner. He captured the seven-furlong Pennsylvania Nursery at Philadelphia Park in early December. He most recently finished third of four in last month's Dancing Count. The horse who finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of him, Great Love, came back last weekend to win an allowance at Charles Town with a solid 88 Beyer.