08/18/2004 11:00PM

Teenage Temper appears tempting

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Pedigree handicappers will undoubtedly be analyzing the sires and dams of the entrants in Saturday's Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, hoping to discover which of those 2-year-olds is apt to handle the stretch-out to seven furlongs.

Another stakes race Saturday, the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks, may also present opportunity for pedigree players. Just like the Hopeful, it has a number of horses trying an unfamiliar distance, which in this case is 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Four of the 10 entrants have not raced 1 1/8 miles or farther.

Three of the contenders are clear on the basis of strong local stakes efforts. They are Fly Away Angel, Catboat, and Miss Moses, the first through third finishers from the one-mile Sweetest Chant Stakes, the prep for the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Looking at the bloodlines of the entrants, another contender emerges: Teenage Temper. A daughter of A.P. Indy out of the graded-stakes-winning mare Pleasant Temper, she is bred to relish 1 1/8 miles.

Offspring of A.P. Indy win at an average distance of 8.3 furlongs, an uncharacteristically long distance from a successful U.S-based sire. Granted, 8.3 furlongs may not seem particularly far - it is, after all, less than the distance of the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks. But average winning distances are tilted low because most horses sired by U.S.-based sires run in this country, where the majority of races are dirt sprints.

Consider some of the numbers on other proven distance sires with fillies in the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks. The average winning distance of runners by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, sire of My Time Now, is 7.8 furlongs. For offspring of Gulch, sire of Miss Moses, it is 7.6 furlongs.

Beyond the sire power in Teenage Temper's pedigree, she also has strength on her dam's side. Her dam, Pleasant Temper, is a Storm Cat mare who won seven route stakes, six on turf and one on dirt. A two-time Grade 3 winner, she retired in 1999 with earnings of more than $848,000. Teenage Temper is her first foal.

Having a good family heritage alone does not necessarily make Teenage Temper a winner Saturday. Her pedigree merely hints of her upside and potential at 1 1/8 miles.

Having watched her win twice at Churchill Downs this spring, I was impressed by her ability to adapt to races with slow paces. In one of those victories, she also happened to defeat Fly Away Angel, who has since won two straight.

Obvious causes for concern are her rather ordinary Beyer Speed Figures. She has never run faster than a 79 Beyer in four starts, and comes off a 67 Beyer, which was earned in finishing a distant third at Ellis Park in an allowance in her last start July 17.

She needs a breakthrough race to win, one in which she leaps forward 20-25 Beyer points. That might be a gamble worth taking if she starts at odds of 8-1 or more.

Stats indicate post 6 ideal

The 1 1/8-mile distance of the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks, which constitutes one lap around the Arlington main track, would seemingly benefit horses from inside posts due to the close proximity of the start to the first turn. Surprisingly, the statistics do not bear that out.

Far inside posts have been at no statistical advantage over the past three meets of racing at Arlington. Over a sample of 232 1 1/8-mile races, the inside post won at a 14 percent rate, post 2 at a 13 percent mark. Horses starting in the middle of the track fared best from a smaller sample, with horses from post 6 winning 16 percent of their races and those from post 7 accounting for 18 percent winners.

Without inside horses having their customary advantage in routes, this bodes well for Teenage Temper, who is set to break from post 6, barring scratches.

Outside posts were less favorable, with success rates mostly decreasing from posts 8 through 12.