10/09/2008 11:00PM

Slight edge to B L's a Runner


MIAMI - Sunday's featured ninth race at Calder is so well-matched, track linemaker Chuck Streva said he agonized long and hard before making his final selections for the second-level optional $25,000 claiming race.

"I could have gone for just about anybody in the field," said Streva, who finally settled on B L's a Runner as both his personal choice and the likely favorite in the six-furlong sprint, which drew a competitive group of eight that includes a trio of 3-year-olds along with old-timers Pirate King and Champagne Account.

The 5-year-old B L's a Runner certainly seems like a logical choice. He appears to be rounding back to the form that saw him beat this same kind here last year, and even higher-priced optional claiming competition early last winter at Gulfstream Park.

B L's a Runner will be making just his third start since finishing a close third behind the multiple stakes-winning sprinters Blue Pepsi Lodge and Lookinforthesecret in the Tampa Bay Downs Sprint on April 5. Trainer Larry Pilotti stretched B L's a Runner to a mile for the first time in his career for his most recent start and was rewarded with a game second-place finish to It's a Bird, who wheeled back three weeks later to dominate the 1 1/2-mile Plagarize Stakes.

B L's a Runner cannot afford to make any mistakes if he's to prevail over a field that includes top contenders Cartouche, Glass Blower, Ruby's Red Socks, and Afleet Bob along with the 7-year-old Pirate King and 8-year-old Champagne Account.

Cartouche and Glass Blower are in top form. The pair finished third and fourth behind Flatter Me Blue under similar conditions on Sept. 28, with Cartouche enduring the worst of the trips that day after having to steady back briefly from tight quarters near the quarter pole.

Pirate King, like B L's a Runner, turns back in distance after chasing a fast pace before fading to finish sixth going a mile on Sept. 20. In his previous start, Pirate King withstood a race-long pace battle to outlast Glass Blower by a neck, with Champagne Account finishing just another length back after joining for command near midstretch.

Both Ruby's Red Socks and Afleet Bob are trying to regain the form that saw them post impressive wins early in the season. Ruby's Red Socks earned a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure winning a $25,000 claiming sprint this summer at Delaware Park but has not started since participating in the Claiming Crown at Canterbury on Aug. 2. Afleet Bob returns home off a very dull effort at Monmouth Park on Aug. 23 that followed two sharp tries over the same strip earlier this summer.

* Tiger's Song tuned up for next Saturday's Cassidy Stakes by working five furlongs in 1:02 for trainer Milt Wolfson here Friday morning. Tiger's Song rebounded from a trio of disappointing stakes efforts with a last-to-first allowance victory here on Sept. 21.