09/14/2006 12:00AM

Southern Missile appears tough to catch


In seven consecutive starts from March through early August, trainer Scott Lake kept entering Southern Missile in turf sprints, including three stakes.

Two wins by wide margins during that span, both in races taken off the turf, followed by a career-best Beyer Speed Figure in a dirt sprint have apparently convinced Lake to keep the 4-year-old Southern Missile on the main track.

The speedy Southern Missile could prove difficult to catch in Saturday's $100,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Handicap at Delaware Park.

The six-furlong stakes drew a field of seven older horses, none of whom have the same sort of consistent high early speed as Southern Missile.

A winner of 6 of 17 lifetime, Southern Missile has been in front at the first call of each of his last three dirt starts and won all three by a combined margin of 15 1/4 lengths. He comes off a 106 Beyer in a wire-to-wire win over high-priced optional claimers at Delaware Aug. 26.

Should Southern Missile falter even slightly, Celtic Innis and Joey Carson are the most dangerous stalkers.

Celtic Innis will be making his first start since winning the six-furlong Chesapeake at Colonial Downs six weeks ago with a career-high 102 Beyer. He was good enough earlier this season to finish second in the Grade 3 Maryland BC Handicap at Pimlico.

Joey Carson, 6 for 8 lifetime, tuned up for his first start since late July with a five-furlong bullet in 59.40 seconds last Sunday. His lone stakes victory came in last fall's $100,000 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

Crafty Schemer, a 7-year-old based in Maryland with trainer Ben Feliciano Jr., has enough speed to try and challenge Southern Missile. His best recent race came when he set the pace through fractions of 21.33 and 43.24 seconds in winning the Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at Canterbury Park in July.

That effort may have taken something out of the 7-year-old Crafty Schemer, however, as he couldn't hold off Celtic Innis in the Chesapeake and was unable to get the lead despite dropping in class to face optional claimers in his most recent start.

Charles Town: Pair of juvenile preps

Two full fields of lightly raced 2-year-olds, none of whom has won anything more than a maiden race, will try to show they deserve a shot at next month's West Virginia Breeders Classics races in a pair of $40,000 preps at Charles Town.

Big Stoney, a 6 3/4-length winner in his career debut, stretches out to two turns for the 6 1/2-furlong Dr. Ernest Benner.

Glorious Appearing, adding Lasix after she failed to replicate her strong career debut performance in her first start against winners, looks like the filly to beat in the 4 1/2-furlong Golden Gull/Chris Brown Memorial.

Both races are restricted to statebreds nominated to the Breeders Classics races on Oct. 14.

Although Big Stoney has by far the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure in the Benner, he must overcome post 10, a distinct disadvantage in a race where the first turn comes up quickly.

Dontbeleftbehind and Eagle Speed both won their maiden against open company first time out. They will each race on Lasix for the first time after regressing in a first-level allowance run over a muddy course.

Nearly all of Glorious Appearing's rivals in the Golden Gull/Chris Brown Memorial are either still maidens or won in very slow time.

Her chief challenger could be Kittihawk, who ran second in each of her first two starts.