07/13/2006 12:00AM

'Sinners' a tempting choice

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Sinners N Saints's 102 Beyer at Monmouth Park will likely make him the Jewel favorite.

SHAKOPEE, Minn. - You can make your speed figures, take your trip notes. But how about this handicapping angle: Rafael Bejarano, among the nation's leading jockeys, rides one horse in the seven Claiming Crown races on Saturday at Canterbury Park, and to take the mount on , Bejarano will rush from the Virginia Derby, post time 5:40 Eastern, onto a charter flight that will bring him here for the Claiming Crown Jewel, post time 8:30 Central.

And even if Bejarano hardly knows where he is, he still will have a decent chance to win the $150,000 Jewel, the headliner on a 12-race card - first post 4 p.m. local time - that includes the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes in addition to the Claiming Crown races.

Besides, Canterbury is foreign territory for many Claiming Crown participants. There are horses in from both coasts, Iowa, Illinois, and Kentucky, and $600,000 in purse money is up for grabs. The Claiming Crown races, five on dirt, two on turf, are run under starter-allowance conditions. Weather conditions should be ideal for activities like frying eggs on blacktop - temperatures Saturday afternoon are forecast to crest in the 100-degree range. Canterbury announced Thursday that admission to the track on Saturday would be free.

Both Sinners N Saints and Bejarano's Virginia Derby mount, Kip Deville, are owned by IEAH Stables partnerships (several of the partners will join Bejarano on the cross-country dash) and trained by Rick Dutrow. Sinners N Saints is one of only six in the Jewel, and figures to be favored after earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 102 in winning a second-level allowance race May 20 at Monmouth Park. Dutrow is deadly running fresh horses, and with 6 wins from only 12 starts, Sinners N Saints remains a horse with upside.

Sinners N Saints looks most comfortable as a pace-presser, but there may be no one to press in the 1 1/16-mile Jewel. On the rail is his main rival, Sandburr, a 7-year-old who has won two straight since being claimed for $20,000 at Sam Houston by trainer Mike Stidham and Feel the Thunder Stable.

"He's one of those cool kind of horses, cool to be around," said Stidham. "He's a pro, and unlike many of them, he likes his occupation. He comes out of his stall prancing like a 2-year-old. He's got an air about him."

won a $25,000 claimer May 20 at Arlington, going a mile in a very fast 1:34.60, and came back June 14 with an easy win for a $40,000 tag, though he beat the same horse both times. Sandburr's sharp recent form came in one-turn miles, but the horse has run well before in two-turn races.

The rest of the Jewel field is Me My Mine, Feature, Come on Jazz, and Mining for Silver.