05/25/2007 11:00PM

Sweetnorthernsaint looks strong


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Sweetnorthernsaint will have several points in his favor, including success on the road, when he invades from Maryland for the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on Monday.

He also drew an advantageous post for the 1 1/16-mile race, owns more triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures than each of his rivals, and was second last out to top older horse Master Command.

The Lone Star is the richest race of the meet and one of six stakes on the Lone Star Million Day card. Sweetnorthernsaint is co-highweighted at 120 pounds with Silent Pleasure and Bob and John, who finished a neck apart last out in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile. The field is completed by Jonesboro, who won the Grade 3 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn in February, and Real Dandy, who has career earnings of $951,704.

Sweetnorthernsaint, a winner of $780,175, can become a millionaire on Million Day if he takes the first-place check of $240,000 in the Lone Star. It is simple to build a case for him to do so. Scheduled to fly into town Sunday, he has shipped with success in the past, taking such races as the Grade 2 Illinois Derby. Sweetnorthernsaint also will break outside of all of his rivals from post 5, and has a 2-for-2 record on wet tracks, which is notable because there is a 30 percent chance of rain Monday.

"He's run well on all kinds of tracks," said Mike Trombetta, who trains Sweetnorthernsaint for Joe Balsamo and Ted Theos.

Sweetnorthernsaint has faced top-class competition. Favored in last year's Kentucky Derby in a field that included Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Bob and John, he finished seventh. He came back and ran second to Bernardini in the Preakness. In more recent times, Sweetnorthernsaint finished second to Master Command in the Grade 3 National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne in his last start April 21.

"He ran well," Trombetta said. "Master Command was just a little too much horse that day. I mean, he's a very good horse right now. We weren't as good as him that day."

Mario Pino will ride Sweetnorthernsaint, who can get a tracking trip Monday.

"He'll stalk another horse or two," Trombetta said. "He made the lead in the Chicago race. He had the 1 hole and you're kind of committed in a race with a short field like that, but I think he likes to stalk off of one or two horses."

Bob and John made his first start of the year in the Texas Mile and was edged by Silent Pleasure, who is seeking his fifth straight win Monday. Since the race, Bob and John has turned in a series of sharp works and stands to move forward in his second start since September. Trainer Bob Baffert has given the mount to Garrett Gomez.