06/07/2007 11:00PM

Speed duel to set up closers


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The mathematical formulas that some horseplayers apply to their everyday handicapping include some rather simple postulates, such as speed cancels out speed and therefore makes a closer your most likely winner.

This persuasive logic seems likely in play Sunday at Churchill Downs, in the ninth-race feature. A couple of exceedingly fast sprinters, Mr. Meso and Danieltown, are drawn alongside each other in a field of 10, so a sizzling speed duel appears highly likely to develop, which might well send many fans in search of an effective closer.

Mr. Meso and Danieltown each went gate to wire in his lone previous appearance at the Churchill spring meet, and although races are never won or lost on paper, the fact they resurfaced in the same race seems to suggest that something has to give. A pair of battle-worn geldings with a combined 96 starts between them, they figure to run some wicked splits in this six-furlong race, which carries a $55,000 purse under a race restriction combining third-level allowances and an $80,000 claiming option.

So let the search for a closer begin. One could do worse than Court Folly, despite the fact his recent form appears lackluster. Less than a year ago, Court Folly won the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga, flying from off the pace to nail Songster, and with the race shape being what it is on Sunday, he could reawaken with one of his best efforts in months. Calvin Borel has the call from trainer Ian Wilkes.

Other viable late-running challengers include Changing Weather, a gray 4-year-old making his first start since being privately purchased and turned over to trainer Grant Forster; Rogue Scholar, a last-to-first winner two starts back at Keeneland for trainer Lori Hendrickson; Reigning Court, who figures among the flight in closest pursuit of Mr. Meso and Danieltown through the opening half-mile; and Go Bucky Go, entered off a gritty allowance triumph early in the meet.

The balance of the field is Key Issues, Joe Six Pack, and Laity.

First post for the 10-race card is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

* A "turn back the clock" promotion is set for Sunday at Churchill, with the first 3,000 fans receiving a free replica of the 1957 Kentucky Derby mint julep souvenir glass. There will be other specials, including reduced concessions prices, and a vintage car display.