08/13/2007 12:00AM

Scottsbluff expected to set pace


DEL MAR, Calif. - An oversubscribed field in Wednesday's $85,000 Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar may prevent a juicy showdown between two speedy 5-year-olds - Only in Reno and Scottsbluff.

Only in Reno, winner of an allowance race at five furlongs on turf here July 30, is stuck on the also-eligible list of Monday's five-furlong turf race. Because Del Mar has a narrow turf course, the race has a safety limit of eight entrants. The Green Flash Handicap drew 11.

Without Only in Reno, Scottsbluff may dictate the pace, but must be at his best to hold off a late threat from Bonfante. Scottsbluff beat Bonfante by a nose in the Robert Kerlan Handicap at six furlongs on turf July 15 at Hollywood Park.

Both horses carried 121 pounds in the Kerlan and have that assignment in the Green Flash.

Scottsbluff is in the best form of his career and has proven to be outstanding when allowed to race near the front or stalk a quick rival.

"You can't fight with him," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "It's better to sit like a church mouse and let him do his thing. If he finds himself a couple of lengths off of it, that's fine. It doesn't hurt to have a target."

Scottsbluff won two six-furlong turf stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this year - the restricted Flame Thrower Stakes on June 17 and the Kerlan. In both races, he was near the front early and took the lead in early stretch. Clinton Potts, who was aboard for those races, has the mount Wednesday.

Owned by Dennis Weir, Scottsbluff has won 6 of 17 starts and $298,176. He suffered a fractured cannon bone after winning the Bullet Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2006, which kept him away from racing for a year.

Mullins said Scottsbluff has not had any soundness issues this year.

"I think training on synthetic tracks has a lot to do with it," he said.

Mullins also entered Queen's Image, a 4-year-old gelding who has won 5 of his last 7 starts, rising in class from $16,000 claiming races for maidens to the allowance level. The Green Flash is his stakes debut.

Bonfante, 6, won the Fort Mason Stakes at five furlongs on turf at Golden Gate Fields last October. Trained by Ron McAnally for a partnership, Bonfante won the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap over the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in April, but was beaten in two stakes at Hollywood Park.