03/31/2008 11:00PM

Telling seeks 3 in a row


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Steve Hobby has consistently sent out winners all meet at Oaklawn Park, and one of his most impressive starters, Telling, will be looking to move into a tie for winningest horse of the meet when he runs in the featured 10th race Thursday.

With a win in the $35,000 optional claiming race, Telling would become the seventh horse to win three races at the meet. To do so, Telling will have to defeat nine older horses in the 1 1/16-mile race, among them Big Slew, an eight-time winner; Strong City, who is multiple-stakes-placed; and Codasco, a comebacker who is out of the Grade 2-winning mare Magicalmysterycat.

Telling, 4, gives up racing experience to his rivals, but all four of his races have been strong ones. He finished third and then second sprinting in his first two starts, and won both his starts at this meet, both at two turns. Telling won a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn in his first route attempt Feb. 3. He won at the distance again in his most recent start, when he was up for a three-quarter-length win in a first-level allowance March 2.

Alex and Joann Lieblong, who are the third-leading owners at Oaklawn, race Telling, a son of A.P. Indy and the Grade 1-winning mare Well Chosen.

"I think the further we go the better," said Hobby, who ranks third in the trainer standings at Oaklawn.

The race Telling won last out has become a key one. Foreowonk Dog, who finished fourth, came back in his next start to win a first-level allowance with a Beyer Speed Figure of 81, and Sweeping Promises, who was sixth, won a $30,000 starter allowance with a Beyer of 72.

As for Telling, he has worked well since his allowance win and will break from post 3 on Thursday under regular rider Eddie Razo Jr.

"He doesn't have much early speed," Hobby said. "I think he's a better horse if he has a real lively pace to run at. But he can stalk."

Telling could get a decent setup, with Big Slew, Codasco, and Infectious Spirit, who is stretching out around two turns, candidates to show pace.

Big Slew has finished second and fourth at this distance in his last couple of starts and could be sitting on a breakthrough race Thursday. Strong City has reason to move forward in what will be his second start since Dec. 1. Last year, Strong City ran third in two stakes, including the $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs.