07/26/2001 12:00AM

'Sandy' won't be close to 5-1 this time


Say Florida Sandy returns to Philadelphia Park on Saturday to avenge his loss in last year's Philadelphia Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Six entered the $200,000 Philadelphia Park BC, a Grade 3, including defending champion Iron Punch.

Last year, Say Florida Sandy finished second, beaten three lengths by Iron Punch, who set a course record for six furlongs run in 1:07.40.

But that was then and this is now. Since winning the Philadelphia Park BC, Iron Punch has lost six consecutive races, while Say Florida Sandy, who is now 7, turned into a tiger and won six races, five of them stakes, including three graded events, from his next 16 starts,

Forget about the 5-1 Say Florida Sandy's backers were getting in last year's Philadelphia Park BC. This time around, Say Florida Sandy, who is trained by the New York-based Juan Serey, could be a slight favorite over Wake at Noon.

Despite having raced nine times this year, Say Florida Sandy is showing no signs of slowing down and the triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures he has earned in his last four starts bear testament to that.

In his last race, Say Florida Sandy finished a narrow second to Exchange Rate in the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont Park and earned a 110 Beyer.

Aaron Gryder rides Say Florida Sandy, a stalker, from post 3. Say Florida Sandy carries 118 pounds.

Serey also entered Run Kush Run, who runs under different ownership and is not coupled with Say Florida Sandy. If he starts, Run Kush Run would be a longshot. The 3-year-old hasn't started since finishing third in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last December.

Say Florida Sandy renews his budding rivalry with Wake at Noon, the 119-pound highweight. Wake at Noon finished second to Say Florida Sandy when they met for the first time in the Grade 2 True North on Belmont Stakes Day. Wake at Noon sat off a blistering pace in the True North, but could be on the lead here in the absence of any real speedballs.

Wake at Noon's regular rider, David Clark, has the mount from post 6.

Max's Pal is 11 for 14 at six furlongs and a winner of his last two in ungraded stakes, but he has finished behind Say Florida Sandy on the two occasions they met this year. Those losses, however, came after a layoff, and Max's Pal is in top form right now.

Jose Ferrer rides Max's Pal, who drew the rail, for trainer Ben Perkins Jr.

Nunzio, an outsider, completes the field.

Also on the card are the $50,000 Iroquois Handicap, the $50,000 Mill Race Stakes, and the $50,000 Captain My Captain.

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