11/01/2007 11:00PM

Sugar Swirl figures best in sprint

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even in this modern era, the Churchill Downs racing office has tended to shy away from carding stakes races on Sundays, with some exceptions. But with the quirks of the 2007 calendar limiting the fall meet to just 21 days, the stakes quotient has been high, and one of the more fortunate results is a Nov. 4 card with back-to-back $100,000 sprints among the 10 scheduled races.

The Very Subtle, for fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track, goes as the eighth race, with the Cherokee Run, a five-furlong turf race for older horses, directly following as the ninth. Both races drew solid fields, with Sugar Swirl likely to come favored in the Very Subtle and East Coast shipper Smart Enough a logical choice in the Cherokee Run.

Sugar Swirl, trained by Bobby Frankel, most recently earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing second in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America over the Polytrack at Keeneland. Consistency has been her hallmark, with 12 in-the-money finishes from 15 career starts, and her tractability also should come in handy in a race that should find her well-placed among a pack pursuing Lady Belsara, the likely front-runner.

Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Sugar Swirl, who was assigned post 7 in a field of nine. Besides Lady Belsara, who was expected to be scratched from the Chilukki Stakes here Saturday, her chief opposition figures to include G City Gal, a battle-tested filly from the Todd Pletcher powerhouse.

The Cherokee Run features an interesting contrast in styles between Smart Enough, a speedy gelding with a knack for winning, and Fort Prado, a stretch-running veteran who is fast approaching the $1 million earnings mark. In all, eight horses are entered, including a pair of 3-year-olds, Chihulykee and Morada Key.

Smart Enough, a winner in 9 of 14 career starts, will be ridden by Chris DeCarlo when he breaks from post 7. Fort Prado, a 16-time winner with earnings of $957,367, will be ridden by Rene Douglas. Douglas was aboard the 6-year-old horse in his last two starts, both narrow victories, most notably in the Oct. 18 Woodford County Stakes on the Keeneland turf course.

"He's been a real warrior for us," said trainer Chris Block, whose family bred and owns Fort Prado.