05/23/2007 11:00PM

Steeplechaser, recent import add intrigue


The winner of a Grade 1 steeplechase last month and a Middle East import who ran in last year's Dubai World Cup are the most intriguing entries in the Eight Thirty, a $55,000 overnight stakes for older horses going 1 1/8 miles on turf Saturday at Delaware Park.

Mixed Up, an 8-year-old gelding who is part of an uncoupled entry for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, comes into the race off a neck victory going 2 1/2 miles while carrying 150 pounds in the Royal Chase Handicap at Keeneland. Compared with his last race, Mixed Up will be racing less than half that distance and is assigned to carry 33 fewer pounds.

Although Mixed Up sports a 6-for-13 record on grass in flat races, his last appearance in a non-hurdle event came when he won a first-level allowance going 1 1/2 miles at Atlantic City in May 2005. The previous year, Mixed Up won the Capital City at Penn National with an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

Shakis is scheduled to make his United States debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The 7-year-old Shakis, 11th in the 2006 Dubai World Cup in his only start on dirt, is 0 for 3 this year, but boasts two Timeform ratings since February 2006 that would seem to make him a contender in this race.

McLaughlin is 9 for 61 (14 percent) with an unprofitable $1.70 return on investment with first-time North American starters in turf routes since January 2005. That total includes a 1 for 4 record and a $1.00 ROI at Delaware Park.

Other contenders include Minister's Joy, who just missed in last month's Grade 3 Ben Ali over Keeneland's Polytrack; the Graham Motion-trained Salinja, second his last two times out in third-level allowances; and Tune of the Spirit, second by a nose in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger last fall and eligible to move forward in his second start off a long layoff.