07/03/2001 11:00PM

Touch Tone trying one turn too far?


ALTOONA, Iowa - The promising but lightly raced Touch Tone will attempt to carry his speed around two turns for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000 Iowa Derby, part of a strong 10-race program Friday night at Prairie Meadows. The card also includes the $125,000 Iowa Distaff.

Touch Tone was the talk of the Keeneland backstretch even before he made his debut April 18. A son of Pick Up the Phone, he did not disappoint in his first race, overcoming a troubled trip to win by 2 3/4 lengths at six furlongs under Robby Albarado.

Trainer Ronny Werner sent Touch Tone directly into stakes competition after that race, shipping the colt to Lone Star for the $100,000 Alysheba at seven furlongs. Once again, Touch Tone was up to the task, winning by a widening five lengths in a brisk 1:21.54.

In his most recent start, Touch Tone faced some of the nation's top 3-year-old sprinters in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Riva Ridge at Belmont Park on June 9, and ran evenly to finish third, beaten three lengths by Put It Back. Albarado will be in town for the mount in the Derby, which was won last year by Captain Steve for trainer Bob Baffert.

Unlike Touch Tone, Drewman, a son of Unbridled, is a proven commodity at Friday's distance, having won his last three starts, all at different tracks, at 1 1/16 miles. But Drewman will be tested for class in this race, making his first start against stakes company.

In his last start, on June 2, Drewman rallied to beat older horses in a turf allowance at Churchill Downs by a half-length. One start earlier, he won a first-level allowance race by a widening 8 1/2 lengths on the dirt at Keeneland. Trainer H.G. Williams has given the riding assignment to Pat Day, who was aboard the colt in all three of his victories.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will run a horse at Prairie Meadows for the first time, sending out Buckle Down Ben in the Derby. In his most recent start, the Belmont Stakes, Buckle Down Ben pressed the pace to the second turn before tiring badly to finish seventh, beaten nearly 30 lengths. Buckle Down Ben is the only graded stakes winner in the field, his stakes victory coming in the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity last November. But he has won only one of his six starts since.

Lukas named Lonnie Meche to ride.