08/20/2004 12:00AM

Straight Line leads field of 10


The unbeaten Cactus Ridge came to Ellis Park last year by way of his Chicago base and used a victory in the James C. Ellis Juvenile as a launching pad for a victory in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Now Straight Line follows a similar path. Perfect in two starts at Arlington, he heads a 10-horse field for Saturday's $100,000 Ellis Juvenile.

Carded at seven furlongs, the race offers a distance between the short ones he has been running - five to 5 1/2 furlongs - and the route races that take up the bulk of the fall stakes calendar for 2-year-olds.

Straight Line has never trailed at any call in his two races. He wired maiden $50,000 company in his debut July 14, and followed that win with a front-running 1 1/2-length victory over Toliver in the Honest Pleasure Stakes at Arlington on Aug. 1. That win earned him an 80 Beyer Speed Figure, among the best in the field.

A 2-year-old son of Boundary, Straight Line is trained by Harvey Vanier. Arlington-based rider Chris Emigh has the mount.

Toliver, a colt by Menifee, is back for another try against Straight Line. After winning his debut at Churchill Downs in June, he fell short at 6-5 in the Honest Pleasure.

That day he was beaten to the lead and hung four wide for much of the race, but showed the courage to close ground from fifth. Calvin Borel, who was aboard for his victory at Churchill Downs, rides for trainer Tom Amoss.

The rest of the field is made up primarily of horses that have been successful in maiden and allowance company at Ellis Park. Elusive Chris, More Than Wild, Clear to Close, and Social Probation appear fastest of those with local experience.

Social Probation, like Straight Line, is unbeaten in two starts. He overcame a tardy beginning to win his maiden by a head at Churchill on June 26, and then showed similar fight to edge Elusive Chris in a photo finish July 22 at Ellis Park.

More Than Wild, coming off a win on turf, has run the highest Beyer Speed Figures in the field. He earned Beyers of 81 and 85 in his first two starts, both in the slop, before returning with figures of 66 and 70. The latter was earned in his victory on grass.