05/07/2003 11:00PM

Run Kush Run in New England debut


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Run Kush Run tries to state his case as the dominant sprinter in New England Saturday when he makes his Suffolk Downs debut in the $35,000 William Almy Jr. Stakes.

The Almy could be a stepping-stone for Run Kush Run to the track's major race this year, the $200,000 Moseley Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Run Kush Run will make his first Boston start for Hycrest Farm and leading trainer Ron Dandy. He was claimed for $65,000 in New York. His 30-race career includes a win in the $100,000 Skip Trial at The Meadowlands in 2001. He once toiled as an entrymate for leading New York-bred money-earner Say Florida Sandy. Through the care of several trainers, he has remained a pure speedster, earning nine front-running victories on the NYRA circuit.

Along the way, he traded punches with Esteemed Friend, the reigning New England horse of the year, who is training with James Bond in New York with the June 21 Moseley in mind. The Run Kush Run-Esteemed Friend rivalry will likely be renewed, but in the meantime, Run Kush Run gets to deal with 11 locals Saturday. Run Kush Run has two half-mile bullet workouts since coming north.

Dhaffir returned from a winter break with a bang for trainer Pamela Angevine on April 26, showing signs of regaining the form that won him the Lou Smith Memorial sprint at Rockingham last summer. The 7-year-old Dhaffir won a $22,000 allowance over a sloppy track. This won't be Dhaffir's first encounter with Run Kush Run, either. Both finished behind Esteemed Friend at Saratoga last year.

Fetch Dinner, who like Run Kush Run has won the Skip Trial (in 2002), returns from a four-month layoff for trainer Lori Lockhart. The break came after Fetch Dinner finished last in the Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct in January.

Russian Momma arrives from Florida for trainer George Handy and owner Francis McDonnell. Russian Momma won a sprint at Gulfstream in March, but his two wins at Suffolk were both around two turns.

First Shot on April 14 ran one of the fastest races at Suffolk this year, earning a 94 Beyer Speed Figure, but he did so going wire-to-wire over a speed-favoring track. He won the Topsider Stakes here last October. He has the same running style as Run Kush Run.

No racing May 19-23

There will be a five-day break from racing here May 19-23 to change the composition of the track from a winterized sandy surface to one better suited to summer.

Training will be suspended for four days during the conversion. Horse-for-the-course considerations will likely change. When the track was closed for an extended time this winter, many favorites were beaten because of the lost training time.

* A handicapping contest is set for May 24 in the Topsider Room with the usual $20 entry fee and a menu of simulcasts and live racing. Entries can be made at the customer service center.